Chennai’s many delayed road works such as flyovers and expressways have worsened the traffic snarl and increased commute times across the city. Many of these pending projects have been delayed by over two to three years, with the longest delay manifest in the decade-long work underway on the Port-Maduravoyal Expressway. Each project has faced its own obstacles including land acquisition, funds crunch and legal challenges leading to many years of wait for the commuters and residents for decongested roads.
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Work commenced in January 2016
Cost: Rs 92 crore
Project aim: The Velachery flyover project is one of the most awaited and long-pending infrastructure projects in the city. Commuters in the area and residents of Velachery pinned high hopes on the twin flyover to ease the traffic woes and peak hour congestion in the area and ease access to GST Road, Taramani Link Road and Velachery Bypass Road.
Project details and current status: The project has screeched to a halt near the Vijaynagar junction unable to crack the impasse. Residents and commuters are now disillusioned with the idea that the flyover will be completed due to the many lapsed deadlines and the ongoing legal battle in the Madras High Court. Worse still, the incomplete flyover has exacerbated the traffic pileup and congestion in the area and increased commute time.
Reasons for delay: The project has faced inordinate delays due to land acquisition issues. The Madras High Court has stayed the land acquisition order as a result of which the highways department is unable to continue work without the acquisition of 2000 sq mts which is embroiled in an ownership tussle among family members. Among other issues causing delay is the shifting of a Metro water pipeline.
Work commenced in February 2016
Cost: Rs 146 crore
Project aim: The 2.3 km long Medavakkam flyover was expected to ease traffic on Velachery-Tambaram high road.
Project details and current status: The flyover will not be open to the public before September of this year at the earliest. Legal challenges forced the construction to a halt in May 2018. The work resumed a year later, in March 2019, only to be challenged again, leading to further delays. Citizens hold out hope that this will be the year that the flyover, which when completed will be the longest in the city, will become functional.
Reasons for delay: Medavakkam flyover faces a similar fate as the Velachery flyover when work ground to a halt due to issues pertaining to acquisition of land. The delay has been made worse by change in contractors, with only 50% of the work having been completed prior to the change. The contractor who had originally bid for the project was unable to complete the work within the prescribed time allegedly due to a shortage of funds and had to be replaced.
Work commenced in February 2017
Cost: Rs 93 crore
Project aim: The Koyambedu flyover was set to ease traffic and help vehicles bypass the CMBT and Kaliamman Koil signals.
Project details and current status: The flyover will be 1.13 km long when complete. It was set to be completed in March 2019 but the delays have meant the flyover isn’t operational well after the deadline has passed. The delay sees frequent traffic jams on Jawaharlal Nehru Road, often increasing commute times by 15-20 minutes. The high number of buses that use the road due to the presence of the Chennai Moffusil Bus Terminus also worsens the traffic scenario. Reports last year suggest that officials expect the work to be completed by March 2020 in the event that there are no further delays.
Reasons for delay: There have been delays due to acquisition of materials and inter-agency coordination and obtaining permission from traffic police for construction for longer hours. The major reason for delay is the heavy vehicular movement during the day has meant that the work on the flyover can be carried out only at night during a smaller window. The permission for road closure was also limited, leading to difficulties during the construction process.
Work commenced in 2015
Cost: Rs 83 crore
Project aim: The flyover was to ease access to the Sandhai Road and Kundrathur Road now find the under -construction pillars a big obstacle to reaching their destination.
Project details and current status: The flyover was commissioned in 2015 and was to be completed in mid-2018 but the work is still ongoing. At the time of commissioning, the cost of the project was estimated to be Rs 69 crore but the delays could mean an increase to around Rs 83 crore. The under construction flyover has made the traffic snarl on GST road much worse with the blocking of roads on both sides. Commuters find the road hard to traverse on a daily basis.
Reasons for delay: Delays on the construction have been blamed on issues with acquisition of sand. The authorities looked to procure manufactured sand 9m-sand) along with river sand for the work. The process delayed construction due to shortage of sand. Since the area sees heavy vehicular movement, the working out of a viable traffic management plan also exacerbated the delay.
Work commenced on January 2017
Cost: Rs 41 crore
Project aim: The second arm of the Retteri flyover was to allow traffic to flow from Moolakadi to Anna Nagar
Project details and current status: The flyover was to originally be completed in July 2018. The flyover is still under construction, causing delays and traffic jams along the Inner Ring Road. A pedestrian subway too is being constructed alongside the flyover. The estimated cost of the project at the time of commissioning was Rs 29 crore. The length of the flyover had to be increased after the start of construction in order to strengthen the foundation, requiring the construction of an additional 7 pillars.
Reasons for delay: The moving of utilities such as power cables and sewage lines have been blamed for the delay in completion of the project. The flyover design also had to be changed to accommodate new findings about the stability of the ground beneath and presence of other fixtures.
Work commenced on February 2016
Cost: Rs 64 crore
Project aim: East of traffic on Medavakkam main road and Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial road
Project details and current status: The flyover was set to cost Rs 64 crore when it was initially commissioned, with construction due to be completed by mid-2018. Traffic has been worsened by the delay in construction and presence of unused pillars. The revised estimate for the completion of the flyover at the junction is March 2020.
Reasons for delay: The delay has been blamed on a change in contractors midway through the project as the original contractors had completed just over 25% of the work before the passing of the initial deadline for the project. Fresh tenders were issued and a new contractor was roped in after the failure of the original contractor to respond to the reasons for the delay.
Port-Maduravoyal Elevated Expressway
Work commenced in January 2009
Cost: Rs 2400 crore
Project aim: The elevated expressway from Maduravoyal to Poonamallee that was proposed with the intention of decongesting traffic caused by container trucks has seen a delay of over a decade.
Project details and current status: The elevated expressway was proposed to run a length of 20 km. The project with its incomplete pillars even became a widely-shared meme towards the end of last year, highlighting the logjam that the city’s residents have become used to over the past decade. The latest on the project is that the National Highways Authority of India has called for fresh tenders for the project to be resumed in 2020 after the previously issued tenders were scrapped.
Reasons for delay: The project became a victim of political strife between the DMK and ADMK. The idea mooted by DMK was stalled by the ADMK government in 2012 citing environmental concerns, as the bulk of the expressway ran alongside the Cooum. The project also raised concerns of eviction and resettlement of thousands of families along its path, complicating the proposal.