Bottleneck on Gokhale Road needs viable, urgent solution

Diversion of city buses will free precious carriage space


Ever since work on the ramp for the take-off point of the eight-km-long elevated corridor on New Natham Road in Madurai started a few months back ahead of IOC roundabout on Gokhale Road, it has become an excruciating bottleneck.

The work at this place, right opposite the busy Vishaal de Mal, was started just when the travel restrictions were relaxed after the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown. Now, with business picking up and Deepavali splurge on people’s mind, there is heavy traffic everywhere. Gokhale Road, which was made one-way to free clogged Alagarkoil Road, is one of the crucial north-south link of Madurai. So, the bottleneck near the mall leads to heavy traffic congestion.

Though the traffic police make all vehicles wait in two files and let them pass through the bottleneck in turns, during peak hours, the long lines stretch up to Tallakulam bus stop. In the evenings, the police divert cars through Kamarajar Second Street from the intersection beyond Lakshmi Sundaram Hall.

But it serves little purpose — these vehicles, after taking right turns at Hakim Ajmal Khan Road and Kamala Second Street — are back in a file near Malligai Sweets to join the buses and two-wheelers again on Gokhale Road, or at the intersection of Lady Doak College Road.

An exasperated traffic police constable says the traffic congestion is severe in peak hours, particularly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Though moffusil buses and goods carriers are barred entry, the long line of city buses occupy all space and slow down the traffic. Along with two other policemen, he had just helped move away a city bus which broke down right on the 200-metre bottleneck.

Among all city buses which use this road, the bulk are those bound for MGR bus terminus at Mattuthavani, particularly 77-B route buses which come from Arapalayam bus stand, with people from outstations, blithely waiting for ages on the bumper to bumper traffic. Locals using public transport know better — they take either 77-BA or 77-BS and take the Anna bus stand route to Mattuthavani with ease.

With some ingenuity on the part of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and the traffic police, this bottleneck issue can be sorted out till the elevated corridor take-off point work is completed. But, by the look of things, it will take many more months, as the whole project has been brought to a halt after a migrant worker was killed in a worksite accident.

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