news Saturday, March 07, 2015 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | March 5, 2015 | 12.48 pm IST Have you heard of a road which is narrower than the footpaths on either side of it?  Around six months after the project was begun to be implemented on St Marks Road, pedestrians and motorists alike are a rather irate lot as the road is narrower than the combined width of the footpaths on either side of the road. St Marks Road in the heart of Bengaluru is one of the roads in the city being revamped under the ambitious privatization Tender SURE (Specifications for Urban Road Execution) project of the state government. It has been designed by Jana Urban Space Foundation (JUSF), a private entity. Tender Sure has been promoted by the likes of Biocon chief Kiran Majumdar Shaw. The JUSF website says that St Marks Road will have “a uniform vehicular traffic lane that allows for continuous traffic movement with designated on street parking”. The proposed design also includes a two-metre wide cycle track and footpath and other amenities which will help the road regain its “Landmark Status”. An illustration of St Marks Road on the JUSF website But according to a traffic policeman posted in the area, the generally reduced width of the road is causing bottlenecks not just on St Marks Road, but also on the neighbouring Residency Road, Richmond Road, Lavelle Road, UB City Road and in the Ashoknagar area. “Normally peak hour starts at 9 am, but after this project began, traffic is nose-to-nose in this area from 8 am until 8 pm. Even on cold days, I sweat profusely,” he says, referring to the heat and smoke generated by the vehicles. However, not only is the width of the road not uniform, in some stretches the road is narrower than the footpath on either side of the road combined. St Marks Road leading up to M G Road. The combined width of the footpaths on either side of the road is more than the width of the road. Asked about this, JUSP said in an email response: “Any road is only as good as its narrowest width, and this has dictated the travel lane width for all Tender SURE roads. What we should be aiming for is a continuous smooth flow of traffic, with the provision of a uniform travel lane start to end of the road.” This state of affairs has not gone down well with people who have approached the local authorities. Chairperson of the BBMP’s Standing Committee on Major Public Works Geetha Vivekananda says that she has received many complaints about the project, which is being implemented by the BMMP’s engineering department but all decisions including the design by the JUSF were approved by a high powered committee chaired by the Chief Secretary. While it was good to have international standards, Vivekananda said that it was necessary to consider the local conditions. “Concept-wise and quality-wise, it (Tender Sure) is good, but the road width needs to be considered when planning for the footpath,” she said. Criticizing the project further, she said: “The CBD is already a congested area, and they are not going to provide parking, but there is a cycle track. Who is going to cycle to work? They say that it should be considerate of the poor, but which poor person uses that area?” JUSP says that “Tender SURE aims to promote non-motorised transport with good infrastructure which will allow people to walk and cycle comfortably and safely and will eventually reduce the number of vehicles on the road.” Asked about the lower volume of pedestrian traffic and lack of permission for street vendors in the areas chosen for the project, the JUSF said that street vendors were part of India’s “cultural ethos” and that space had been designated for them “on footpaths away from traffic and without intrusion on the pedestrian and cycle paths”. Vending space would be allocated and monitored according to the state’s street vendors policy, it said. Read- At 61, this woman gave birth to her own grandaughter Read- A tea shop owner couple who have visited 16 countries, one dream destination left Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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