The architect who designed the street says the reasons for the problem could run deeper and could resurface again.

Why a quick-fix wont solve issue of loose cobblestones on Bengalurus Church Street
news Civic Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 17:25

A recent news report raised alarm bells about the state of Bengaluru's Church Street which was inaugurated with much fanfare earlier this year in March.

The report highlighted how granite cobblestones that make up the road were coming off and how the packing between the cobblestones had come apart.

When TNM visited Church Street on Tuesday, the condition of the road was not as dismal as the report suggested. A few loose cobblestones on the road appeared to have been relaid recently, possibly after the issue was highlighted.

TNM spoke to V Naresh Narasimhan, the architect credited with designing the street, who acknowledged that there was an issue but says it was fixed in 24 hours. "There is a maintenance issue. It appears the bedding concrete didn't set properly in one or two places and it has been rebonded and put back correctly now. The issue came up within the defect liability period of the contractors and they took action within 24 hours and fixed it,” Naresh said.

However, according to Naresh, the reasons for the problem could run deeper and could resurface again.

"The street is not designed for fast moving traffic. There is a speed limit of 10 kmph for the road but people are driving at 40-50 kmph and ripping down the road and braking hard which is causing stress to the cobblestones," he said.

Naresh confirmed that he has previously make recommendations to the government to make the street 'pedestrian-only' from 1 pm to 1 am.

"I've been suggesting to the government that we should shut the street for vehicles from 1 pm to 1 am every day and it should only be used by pedestrians. Not even cycles should be allowed on the street at that time and the traffic should be discouraged from using the stretch as thoroughfare" he added.

Muthu Babu, a contractor handling Church Street pointed out multiple reasons for the damage on the road. "The number of bars and restaurant on the street are high. The drinks barrels are sometimes unloaded on the road and this puts pressure on the road. Also, when vehicles are towed, the hydraulic equipment used also puts stress on the road as it has a sharp edge and vehicles are loaded on it. There are mutliple reasons for the road to get damaged," he said.

Muthu further reiterated that the street is not fit to handle heavy vehicular activity. "The street should be made a pedestrian-only street.  Only residents in apartments near the street should be given a pass to take their vehicles on the street. The street will not be able to handle it otherwise," he said. 

Church Street, a posh area in the middle of Central Business District, was closed for over a year from February 2017 till March 2018, when government spent over Rs 15 crore to redesign and reconstruct the 750 metre road under the TenderSURE project. Currently, vehicles are allowed at all times on the stretch of road that connects Brigade Road and St. Mark's Road. It is also parallel to MG Road with one of the exits of MG Road Metro Station also at Church Street making it a busy hub of activity. 

Naresh also added that a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere could give away to newer ideas on how the street could be used. "The cultural infrastructure should be built by us. Right now, the government is distracted with other issues and we don't know when this issue will be taken up. Sundays only pedestrian, street festivals, so many fun things we can think of with food trucks and such cultural events," he added.

Church Street was inaugurated by former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Shantinagar MLA NA Haris to much fanfare on March 1. The 750-metre stretch has courted controversy ever since the project began on February 22, 2017. The construction was supposed to be completed on July 1, 2017. However, as many as four deadlines were missed and the road was eventually completed in February earlier this year.

 

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