Historically, every major city starting with London or New York had to go through tremendous hardships during their underground metro construction. This was due to the ‘cut-and- cover’ construction method used there more than a century ago and the same method is being used even today by BMRCL for all its underground station constructions. With the works on Kamaraj Road interchange station on Phase 2 metro Red Line just starting and being in the Central Business District (CBD) area, the anxiety levels of public seems to be amplified. This is also fuelled by the recollection of ordeals from a decade ago during Phase 1 construction, where eventually a contractor was blacklisted for tardiness in the same MG Road area.
Kamaraj Road is a busy vital traffic link connecting many parts of the city. This is not just for private vehicles but also for public transport bus traffic. Since the road connects to Commercial Street, there is pedestrian non-motorised traffic (NMT) traffic from MG Road area using this stretch actively. Hence, this presents a sense of urgency for completion of works and reopening of the closed sections for traffic.
There is a list of actions that different organisations can take up to handle the problems arising due to the closure. For example, Traffic Police need to come out with a plan to manage the traffic affected by the closure, which will mainly split between Anil Kumble Junction and Webbs Junction coming from Dickenson Road. BMTC buses also use this stretch for bus connections from Shivaji Nagar and that traffic re-routing also needs to be done working with Bengaluru Traffic Police.
If not for vehicular traffic, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) should set up temporary but safe pedestrian pathways connecting MG Road and Cubbon Road. This will provide pedestrian and NMT access, including folks who use the Phase 1 metro station.
BMRCL could also publish list of different phases with planned completion dates for the construction of the interchange, like moving of utilities, complete of excavation, station building, etc. This could be used to track the status by everyone and enable authorities to raise flags when there are any signs of delays.
As we know, hardships are inevitable when construction work is carried out in populated areas. However, better planning and execution can sure mitigate the effects of the same and the administration is responsible to make this happen. Different government departments need to work closely to manage the situation. With the recent news of the state government setting up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) headed by an IAS officer to monitor the progress of Phase 2 metro, hopefully it makes it relatively easier to focus on the urgent needs.
—The writer is a transport enthusiast and associated with PRAJA...