Goripalayam in immediate need of well-designed flyover

Northern nerve centre: A flyover was proposed at Goripalayam at a cost of INR 164.28 crore six years back, but the project still remains on paper

Goripalayam junction is perhaps the most sensitive landmark in Madurai not just because of the volume of traffic it handles but also due to the presence of Muthuramalinga Thevar’s statue.

With a phenomenal rise in vehicle population in the city, the junction has, of late, become prone to frequent traffic snarls. The situation becomes worse when political or social outfits resort to road blockade at this favourite ‘agitation point.’ There have been instances of normal life in the city getting paralysed because of an agitation lasting for more than a day.

To mitigate the traffic problem, late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced in 2013 that a flyover will be constructed at the junction at a cost of INR 164.28 crore. Even after six years after the announcement, the project still remains on paper.

The junction is the intersection of three arterial roads – Alagarkoil Road, Panagal Road and Palam Station Road.

Also, Albert Victor bridge, which is more than a century old, branches off from this junction. It handles one-way traffic from the northern parts of the Vaigai to the southern parts.

The proposed flyover is designed to connect Alagarkoil Road to Simmakkal on the south bank of the Vaigai through a new bridge measuring about 1.5 km, parallel to the Albert Victor bridge. Another arm of the flyover, which is proposed to be 800 metres long, will connect Alagarkoil Road with Sellur. The revised estimate of the project stands at INR 210 crore, according to Highways officials.

In the last six years, the project has met with bureaucratic delays. While administrative sanction was given on March 4, 2016, with approval to acquire 11,315 square metres of land, officials acknowledge that no significant progress has been made since then.

Only in 2018 did officials from the Revenue department began issuing notices under Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, to landowners in the area.

The work, however, faced a roadblock subsequently with the management of The American College, located near the junction, challenging the acquisition of 2.5 acres of its property.

Principal M. Davamani Christober says that college is a heritage building that must be left undisturbed. “We are not against the construction of the flyover. We only want to ensure that the structure does not affect the 138-year-old institution. The highways department can tweak the design a bit,” he says.

Arun Balagopalan, Deputy Commissioner of Police-Traffic, says Goripalayam junction is important because it is not just the intra-city traffic but even those coming from outside the district use the junction due to an incomplete Ring Road. Once complete, Ring Road will allow vehicles to bypass the city.

According to a recent study conducted by Madurai city police, between 5,000 and 6,000 passenger car units (a transportation engineering metric) ply in Goripalayam during peak hours. The DCP says that traffic often piles up along the Alagarkoil Road till Karupanasamy Temple or Prasanna Venkatachalapathy Temple in Tallakulam on some days/times, particularly between 8 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“A flyover will definitely reduce the traffic congestion and ensure that there isn’t a 60-second wait at the signal,” he says.

Vice-president of Indian Institute of Architects N. Ramalingam says the flyover needs to be designed with a sustainable outlook and not just attempt to address immediate traffic-related issues. He opines that with better routing, design and traffic management the necessity of a flyover at the junction can be overcome.

He says that the flyover should connect Panagal Road and Palam Station Road and not Alagarkoil Road and south bank of the Vaigai. The Panagal and Palam Station roads carry more vehicles. “Flyovers have not eased congestion when they are not designed properly. A case in point is the unfinished one at Palanganatham,” he says.

“It will also be wise to shift the Goripalayam bus stop to Palam Station Road as buses contribute to the congestion more than any other type of vehicles,” he says.

While the project is still in its nascent stage, motorists express concern that adequate mitigation measures must be in place during the construction, which can easily last for more than a year. At the same time, if work on Goripalayam flyover is taken up now, it will multiply the traffic problems of the city at a time when the National Highways Authority of India is involved in construction of an elevated highway on the New Natham Road, again in north Madurai.

V.P. Manikandan, a motorist, says it may become chaotic when construction begins. Quoting the example of the Kalavasal junction flyover which is under construction, Mr. Manikandan says there may be even more congestion in this area unless proper alternative routes are identified.

“Goripalayam is also a major connecting point to all markets which have been shifted to Mattuthavani. While rerouting, the traffic police must ensure that other small connecting stretches are not blocked,” he says

Source: The Hindu

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