The government has approved the building of two underpasses at Kalma Chowk linking Garden Town and Gulberg’s Main Boulevard at a cost of Rs1.125 billion, with construction work due to start in just a few days, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Project Director Mazhar Hussain confirmed that a budget had been approved for the two underpasses, but refused to give any project details. He said the design details for the underpasses would be finalised in a couple of days, at which point he would be able to share them with the press.
Officials in the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) said that according to the approved proposal, the three-lane underpasses would be 5.1 metres high, meaning they could be used by heavy traffic as well, unlike most of the underpasses in the city, which are 3.6 metres high. Given their additional height, they would be longer (about 600 metres) as well as steeper, with a five-degree slope rather than a three-degree slope. They said the underpasses would be built in two months.
The Tepa officials said the longer underpasses might cause some traffic problems. Vehicles entering the underpass from Garden Town towards Gulberg would exit past Centre Point, meaning vehicles heading for Defence via Ali Zeb Road would have to travel towards the Liberty Roundabout and then back, creating further congestion at the already busy junction.
They said that they expected the government to address the design issue so that the underpass could be shortened before construction starts in a few days. “The MBS design was changed several times too. The government will have to reconsider” the length of the underpasses, an official said.
The officials said that once the underpasses were finished, vehicles would no longer be able to take u-turns at Kalma Chowk, or to take right turns when approaching from slip lanes, as the bus corridor beneath and between the flyovers would be sealed off with railing, as along the rest of the Metro Bus Service route. They said that the decision to do so had been made recently.
The abolition of turnings at Kalma Chowk for ground-level traffic due to the sealed-off bus lane would also make life more difficult for vehicles on Ferozepur Road, said the officials. It would mean that rather than take a u-turn or right turn at Kalma Chowk, vehicles would have to travel to the Canal intersection, to the turning at Gulab Devi, to the Liberty Roundabout, or to Garden Town.
“Road users will have to travel an extra kilometre, maybe more, to take u-turns. This will add to the congestion at all remaining turnings,” one official said, adding that he expected the government to reverse the decision.
Chief Traffic Officer Captain Sohail said that they had already made traffic flow plans for potential underpass construction at Kalma Chowk, as well as at Azadi Chowk and Qainchi. He said he wasn’t aware that Kalma Chowk was to be closed for ground-level traffic.
The construction of an underpass for Model Town is currently underway. Officials said that the top slab of the tunnel had been finished, meaning that buses could run overhead on the MBS route. They said that the project would be finished in another 40 days. They said that the top slabs for the Kalma Chowk underpasses would be finished quickly so they didn’t disrupt bus services. They said that they expected work on the MBS not to finish till February, well past the deadline for the project set by the chief minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ