Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) officials have reworked a proposal to build an elevated bus-only track for the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), suggesting that it run all the way from Qurtaba Chowk to Data Darbar.
TEPA had initially proposed that a 2.5-kilometre elevated track be built from Qurtaba Chowk to MAO College, for two reasons: first, the area is congested and building a bus-only track for the BRTS down the middle of the road, with regular crossings built for pedestrians, would choke other traffic; and second, it would obviate the need for expensive land acquisitions. The Planning and Development Department approved the proposal earlier this week.
Now TEPA officials are suggesting that the track be extended another 1.3 kilometres to Data Darbar, for the same reasons: to ensure the flow of traffic of other vehicles is maintained, and to avoid the need to buy land.
“A proposal has been made to the Planning and Developing Department to extend the elevated bus lane,” said Mazhar Hussain, the project director for the BRTS and TEPA’s director for construction. Asked if he expected the proposal to be accepted, he said he could not say either way.
He said that once it was decided, work on the bridge and on another section of the BRTS from Kalma Chowk to Qurtaba Chowk would begin simultaneously in mid-May.
TEPA Assistant Director Ansar Butt said that if the new proposal were rejected, most of Gamay Shah Road would be taken up by the BRTS lane. He said that other traffic going to or leaving Data Darbar would have to use a longer route. He said that if the elevated lane were built all the way to Data Darbar, the traffic flow on the Lower Mall and Gamay Shah Road would not be disturbed.
Lahore Transport Company General Manager Uzair Shah said that he hoped the proposal would be accepted. He said that if the bridge were to end at MAO College, it would mean needing to build crossings for bus passengers every few hundred metres which would choke the traffic flow on the road. “In engineering bridges are considered the last resort. In this case there is no other solution,” he said.
He said that in case their proposal was turned down, they would have to take four metres from Nasser Bagh and cut down some very old trees besides taking land from the DCO’s office. “There would no longer be parking space outside the Secretariat either,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.