North Chennai roads turn into an obstacle course for commuters

Issues with civic infrastructure

open manhole on north chennai road
The open manhole on Puzhal Murugesan street has not been fixed despite complaints. Pic: Raghukumar Choodamani

Battered roads have become the new norm across the city of Chennai. Roads that were resurfaced over a couple of months ago are now ridden with potholes and craters. At every 10 to 50 metres, commuters are bound to stumble upon a road cut or a pothole or speed breaker or a manhole cover which is at least four to six inches higher than the surface of the road. 

The reasons stated for poor roads have been that there is ongoing development work such as the construction of the metro rail or the creation of stormwater drains. As a result of this, many roads are being milled and left unattended for days, if not weeks together. 

Lack of coordination between the various departments has ruined the newly resurfaced roads in many locations. Commuters are being forced to deal with accidents, wear and tear of their vehicles, traffic diversions and traffic jams as a direct consequence. 

A closer look at the state of some of north Chennai’s roads reveals what the average commuter has to contend with these days.

Read more: What the tale of two roads says about civic work in Chennai

Flyover and CMRL work making north Chennai roads unnavigable

The construction of the Ganeshapuram Flyover in Vyasarpadi and the Metro rail work in and around Perambur and Ayanavaram has made commuting very difficult for the residents living in north Chennai.  The Murasoli Maran Flyover in Perambur does not seem to serve any purpose given its flawed design other than to cause more traffic and chaos on the roads. 

The stretch of Stephensons Road in Vyasarpadi on the south side of the railway tracks has been developed during the construction of the flyover. But the north side near Radiance Apartments stands in stark contrast as it is totally battered and deserves to be resurfaced. 

Commuters have to go past overflowing sewage from the manhole chambers, deep craters and also a makeshift median through the dense traffic during peak hours. An incomplete and flawed median made of concrete blocks near Ganeshapuram Subway has forced commuters to drive on the wrong side of the road or take a “U” turn at either end of the median, causing traffic jams. The narrow stretch between AA Road and Ganeshapuram Subways deserves to be widened sooner rather than later.

The lack of police personnel to regulate traffic during peak hours has made things very difficult for north Chennai commuters.

Open manholes and potholes across north Chennai roads

Open or damaged stormwater drains or sewage manhole chamber doors can be found at several locations in north Chennai. 

We have lodged several petitions seeking help in restoring an open manhole chamber door at the intersection of Puzhal Murugesan Street and Chinnayan New Colony 1st Main Road. Local officials claim they are unable to replace the doors due to a shortage of funds and have provided shoddy, make-shift fixes.  

complaint about poor roads
Complaints were raised with authorities on the open manhole. Pic: Raghukumar Choodamani

Several interior roads across the city also desperately need attention. A small stretch of Patel Road near Madhavaram High Road in Perambur was resurfaced only a couple of months ago and is already ridden with deep potholes. 

Vadivelu Main Road in Perambur which was also resurfaced about a year ago is already ridden with bumps and potholes.

Read more: Why road milling work calls for active involvement of Chennai citizens

Lack of accountability for poor roads

Most of the north Chennai roads resurfaced over the last three years are in very bad shape. As per our understanding, there is a mandatory three-year guarantee period for the roads which are resurfaced. Many of these roads have been damaged well before the completion of the three-year window.

While several citizen groups have been reporting the state of the battered roads, the local officials seem to be looking away instead of holding contractors responsible for the damage and getting them to fix it. 

We believe it would make good sense if the city planners take into consideration the projected growth and needs of the communities over the next 25 years before undertaking civic work. They must focus on putting in place a robust and functional infrastructure instead of providing cosmetic makeovers or quick fixes to meet the immediate needs of the commuters.

Complaints about poor roads can be raised through the 1913 helpline of the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Namma Chennai App.

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About Raghukumar Choodamani 39 Articles
Raghukumar Choodamani is a resident of Chennai and likes to write about his observations in Chennai.