The traffic situation in the city is likely to worsen over the coming weeks as several road projects get underway, say city government and traffic police officials.
There are already jams due to the ongoing construction of a flyover at the Muslim Town intersection on Ferozepur Road, scheduled to be completed by March 23.
The government recently launched the ‘Model Roads’ project, under which 20 major roads will be repaired. Traffic police officials say that the worst period for traffic will likely be mid-February, when work on many of the model roads will be underway.
Sources in the city district government said that the concerns about the traffic situation getting out of hand because of the road works were raised at a meeting chaired by the Lahore commissioner a few months ago, but the government had insisted that the projects go ahead.
The model roads in the project include three controlled by the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA): Abul Hasan Isfahani Road (repair work began on January 15 and is due to end March 15), Model Town Link Road (work started, ending February 15) and Shabir Usmani Road (March 16-April 15).
The rest are roads controlled by the city district government: Queens Roads (work began January 10, ends February 10), Race Course Road (February 10-March 31), Shalimar Road (January 1-February 27, Empress Road (January 10-17), Lytton Road (January 15-20), Durand Road (January 25-31) and Circular Road (February 1-March 12).
City government officials said that the traffic situation on The Mall and Davis Road would get worse. The Mall is already busier because of diversions from Ferozepur Road. “Jail Road gets very busy at Lahore College and Kinnaird College closing time. Previously traffic was diverted at these times to Ferozepur Road, but is now being diverted to The Mall,” they said.
An official said that there was no alternative route to Shalimar Link Road since Garhi Shahu Road had been dug up by construction workers and left unrepaired for several months. He said that Durand Road became “a huge car park” at school closing time and traffic was diverted to Davis Road. “Once work on Durand Road (from Shimla Pahari to Garhi Shahu) begins, traffic on Davis Road will become even worse,” he said.
“The traffic situation will get worse in the coming few weeks because of the road works,” said City Traffic Superintendent of Police (SP) Mustafa Hameed Malik. “It will be tricky to manage but we will have to, as there’s no other choice. We have prepared several diversion plans.”
Saddar Traffic SP Asif Zafar Cheema said that 300 wardens had been working in three shifts to control traffic. He said that these wardens were placed at Qurtaba Chowk, Gaddafi Stadium, Canal Road, Jail Road, the Punjab University New Campus, Muslim Town Mor, Naqsha Stop, Bukhari Market, Ferozepur Road, Raja Market, Gulzar Market and Gulberg Main Boulevard.
He said that traffic on Jail Road at college closing time would improve as they had arranged for the opening of the Kinnaird College gates for cars picking and dropping students.
“There will be problems for the time being but ultimately it will pay off,” said Lahore Commissioner Jawad Rafique Malik. He said that the government was aggressively pursuing the projects because it wanted them finished before the allocations for the projects lapse in June.
Malik said that all traffic diversion plans would be published in daily papers so motorists would know what roads to avoid. He said that work on both sides of roads would not be undertaken simultaneously. He said that officials would clearly mark lanes, make parking arrangements and remove encroachments under the model roads project. “Initially we will not displace vendors,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2012.
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