Fly over Kathipara from October
Come October, it will be a smooth ride for Chennai commuters headed for the airport on the aesthetically designed, multi-level flyover at Kathipara, the gateway to Chennai that for years has been a traffic bottleneck.The flyover that is expected to ensure non-stop vehicular flow from the busiest GST road will be ready by end of September. It will be the biggest flyover in the city, bigger than even the Anna flyover at Gemini, with four loops and built at a cost Rs 259 crore. For the National Highways Authority of India, Kathipara will be the first grade separator to be taken up in the country. At the airport, the NHAI is yet to acquire 16,000 sq m land from the defence ministry. But, a 1.6-km long bridge was built with the backing of the Airports Authority of India. While vehicles proceeding from Tambaram to Kathipara will use the flyover, those headed for the Airport from Kathipara will be allowed to pass through the widened road to ensure non-stop vehicular flow.With Union shipping and road transport minister T R Baalu setting a firm deadline for completion of the two flyovers, which come under his South Chennai Parliamentary Constituency, the NHAI authorities have been working overtime to finish the task using more than 700 workers.“In all probability we will finish the work by September,” P Srinivas, project director of NHAI said. The Kathipara grade separator should have been completed by April 2007 as per the original plan. But land acquisition and shifting of utilities such as relocation of electricity, telephone, water and sewerage lines delayed the work. The NHAI authorities thought it would be easier for them to acquire the land owned by the state-run Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO). But it turned out to be a more difficult proposition. “Besides reluctance on the part of government in handing over the land, the NHAI was compelled to pay hefty compensation,” an official said.For the Kathipara flyover, of the Rs 161.41 crore paid as compensation to land owners, a major chunk went to the SIDCO, HTL and other government agencies, sources say. But the flyover, when thrown open to traffic will ensure that vehicles move fast and seamlessly on all sides as there will be no signals to stop them. Landscaping will be done later to beautify the flyover that will prove to be a landmark in the city.Given the high density of traffic on either side of the GST road at Kathipara, vehicles bound for the airport are often stuck in long snarls. But once the bridge is thrown open for traffic, these hassles would be ironed out, officials said. As part of NHAI’s Rs 810-crore project, work has been progressing for flyovers at the busy Koyambedu and Padi intersections and also the four-lane road between Koyambedu and Maduravoyal (4.6 km). At every point, delays on account of non-availability of land in the city affected the work. A protracted legal battle over acquisition of a portion of marriage hall owned by actor Vijayakanth delayed work on the Koyambedu flyover for a long time. The construction of this flyover has been an uphill task for the authorities as it involved shifting of a slew of sewage lines. “The flyover was close to Koyambedu sewage station and a number of lines crisscrossed the junction. Wherever we dug, pipelines burst and Metrowater had to lay new pipelines, further stalling the progress of the project,” Srinivas remarked.As blocking traffic on these busy stretches would have invited the wrath of the public, authorities continued to work without stopping vehicular movement. Traffic was not blocked for even an hour at Kathipara junction to facilitate the construction, said NHAI officials.Of the four flyovers, the most challenging has been the one at Padi intersection, which has a railway line passing close to it. A passenger train service was suspended to aid construction. While Padi flyover is expected be opened by January 2009, the officials plan to open traffic on one way of the Koyambedu-Maduravoyal stretch by this October. The Koyambedu flyover is expected to be completed by March. Though all these works taken up by the NHAI caused a lot of hardship to road users, people will eventually have a reason to smile: no toll will be levied.