The 10-metre road corridor beneath the Kalma Chowk flyover will be made into a one-way lane for motorists travelling to Model Town, even though it has been marked for use as a bus lane in plans for a citywide bus system.
Workers have begun paving the road corridor, after which they will start building slip roads around the flyover, which was ‘completed’ on August 14.
Sabir Khan, the project director for the works at Kalma Chowk, said that the road corridor would be made into a one-way lane for motorists travelling to Model Town. He said cars heading to Model Town via Ferozepur Road from the direction the Canal would be able to get onto the road corridor by taking a right at the traffic signal at Kalma Chowk. Vehicles from Gulberg’s Main Boulevard heading to Model Town would also get onto the road corridor from Kalma Chowk, he said.
Khan said the idea was to prevent the obstruction of traffic getting off the flyover and heading towards Kot Lakhpat by vehicles from Gulberg cutting across from a service lane to the left of the flyover to turn right at the entrance to Model Town. He said the corridor was a temporary solution until an underpass is built at the interchange.
The chairman of the Lahore Transport Company, which is making plans for the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) in partnership with a Turkish company, said that he had not heard about the road corridor being reserved for traffic to Model Town, but was certain that when the BRTS is built, the road corridor will be in use as a bus lane. “How can a less than half kilometre stretch of road be allowed to threaten a project of such dimensions?” said Khawaja Hassaan.
He said that the chief minister was very keen on the BRTS and was demanding regular updates on the progress of the project. He said work on the first phase from Gajju Mata to Model Town would be completed by August 31.
Another Lahore Transport Company official said that no notice had been received from the Communication and Works Department concerning the use of the road corridor. He said if the department had decided to use the road corridor for traffic heading to Model Town, it was a decision made without consulting with the LTC.
He said the corridor might also be needed for the Lahore Rapid Mass Transportation System (LRMTS) as an elevated level or underground. “It shows the lack of coordination between departments,” he said.
He expressed concern that if the road corridor was reserved for Model Town traffic, it would be hard to reclaim for later use as a bus lane. “I don’t see the Model Town underpass ever being built so the residents will not want to give up the road,” he said.
Model Town Society President Tahir Hussain Kardar said that he hadn’t heard from the project director since the flyover was inaugurated, but he had heard that the road corridor would be reserved for Model Town traffic after plans to build an underpass had been put on hold.
“We think it will be hard to construct an underpass here because of a lack of funds. I don’t know why they wasted the money on designing the underpass and other preliminary activities,” Kardar said, adding that residents would hold protests at the chief minister’s house in Model Town if the underpass were not built.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.