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Mumbai Metro work causes traffic bottlenecks

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According to a 2009 IIT-B study, the city could have saved ₹17,660 crore till 2045 by opting for an underground Metro 2B corridor

Underground Metro corridors were a better option for the city, especially for commuters in the western suburbs, as the proposed elevated lines have compounded the traffic woes of motorists, according to experts.

Metro construction work on the Western Express Highway (WEH) and Linking Road, that runs from Dahisar to Bandra, for two corridors meant to ease traffic congestion, has seen major snarls on these roads, said experts.

For example: The time one should take to travel from Dahisar to Bandra on the WEH, a distance of 22km, should be about 22 minutes if one considers an average vehicle speed of 60km an hour, however, at present it takes close to two hours.

Also, with the construction of the Metro 2A corridor — from Dahisar to DN Nagar, along 18.5 km on the Linking Road — and Metro 7 — from Andheri (East) to Dahisar (East) along the WEH — likely to miss their 2019 deadlines, the traffic troubles will continue.

According to a 2009 IIT-B study, the city could have saved ₹17,660 crore till 2045 by opting for an underground Metro 2B corridor. The line from DN Nagar to Mandale in Mankhurd is currently planned as an entirely elevated corridor, but since last year, residents from Bandra, Khar and Santacruz said this would not only aggravate the traffic problems on SV Road, but also affect the road and structures along the stretch. While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has, on multiple occasions claimed that these corridors would decongest suburban road traffic, experts believe otherwise.

The IIT-B report by Dr SL Dhingra stated, “An elevated metro station will reduce the motorable width of roads to more than 30%. This will further congest traffic.” It further stated that MMRDA scrapped nine planned flyovers, including seven in the western suburbs and two in the eastern suburbs, to accommodate the elevated metro corridor. The report advised an underground network mainly between Jogeshwari and Bandra.

Juhu-based architect Nitin Killawala took the MMRDA to court over the 2B corridor, based on the report. H-West Citizens Trust, earlier this year, approached the high court with a petition stating that the MMRDA make the corridor underground.

According to a public notification issued by the metropolitan commissioner, it has proposed to widen the WEH from 200 feet to 230 feet. “After conducting a study, it has been revealed that the existing width of the road is insufficient and the commencement of Metro work may result in reduction of the existing road.”

Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner, traffic, said that the department has written to the MMRDA to remove barricades where Metro pillar work has been completed along the WEH.

“We will place the barricades at specific locations whenever the U-girders are being erected, so the entire WEH does not have to be within the confines of barricades blocking an entire lane. This effect will be in place from November 15 barring places where work is still going on,” Kumar said.

In the case of Metro construction, there is no alternative for WEH commuters as motorists coming from the outskirts of the city rely on the 27-km highway. For the commuters of Linking Road, they have an option of SV Road, where the traffic situation is also bad.

Staggering office timings is a solution, according to the Mumbai police. The traffic police have approached commercial offices requesting them to stagger their timings.

While there is absence of a comprehensive study on the transition of private car users to metro ridership, Architect and planner PK Das said, “What we can observe on the Andheri-Ghatkopar metro corridor is that the traffic has not reduced.”

While Killawalla called the choice of elevated 2B corridor as a discriminatory divide between the population of south Mumbai and western suburbs, Das said there is a misconception that an underground line is two to three times costlier. “It is only 30-40% more costlier, but more importantly, it does not disturb conditions on the ground,” Das added.

Shiv Sena corporator Anant Nar said, “The number of vehicles are only increasing. It is not so that the people will automatically shift to using public transport unless the government takes stringent measures to curb more vehicles.”

STRAP

WESTERN SUBURBS Metro 2A, 7 and 2B elevated lines likely to slow vehicles further on WEH, SV Road and Linking Road

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