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News: Expressway choke point fear for underpass-10-08-2021


Gurgaon: Road safety experts and commuters have raised concerns on reduced traffic mobility and the possibility of a bottleneck near Shankar Chowk after the Ambience Mall U-turn underpass is thrown open to the public, which is expected to take place by August 25.
The underpass was set to open by August 15, but the deadline was extended because of the rains delaying finishing work on the project.
To go to the underpass, commuters will have to take exit No. 18, which is located near the Airtel office and Shankar Chowk. The entry for the underpass will be near the HIL office gate on the Gurgaon-Delhi side, while the exit will be near Ambience Mall on the Delhi-Gurgaon side. If one misses exit No. 18, there’s no other route towards the underpass and the commuter will have to go all the way till Rajokri in Delhi for a U-turn, defeating the purpose of the underpass.

Experts said the service lane of exit No. 18 may turn into a bottleneck as traffic from the Airtel office side and that from the Delhi-Gurgaon side of the expressway will merge at the lane. There seems to be no planning for traffic mobility or installation of signage on the stretch to educate commuters, they said. The project contractor plans to install signage only at the mouth of the underpass and at the Shankar Chowk intersection.

“Traffic on the expressway will be merging with traffic on the service lane, making this point a black spot. There need to be signboards informing the expressway traffic to take the exit if they wish for a U-turn. Those using the service lane also need to be informed to keep to the left and adhere to a certain speed limit because of the traffic merging point ahead,” Sewa Ram, a city-based urban transport expert, said.

“There are high chances of many commuters missing exit No. 18. If they miss it, a few errant drivers may even take to wrong-side driving or illegal U-turns to avoid going to Rajokri,” said Aniket Singh, a daily commuter.

When approached, the contractor said they are still planning signage. “We are still reviewing the mobility pattern at exit No. 18, because that’s where traffic on the expressway will make the lane switch. We’ll do the needful depending on discussions with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI),” said an official from Ram Kumar Contractor.

NHAI, meanwhile, claimed that installation of signage will be discussed with the contractor to avoid confusion. “Commuters already take exit No. 18 for the U-turns ahead, under the flyover at Shankar Chowk. So, we don’t see any major change in the mobility pattern. We’ll close these U-turns to avoid multiple conflict points and ensure that commuters use the underpass instead. There’ll be ample signage,” a senior NHAI official told TOI.

There are safety risks on the Delhi-Gurgaon side too as traffic coming out of the underpass will merge with the high-speed vehicles coming from the Delhi side, experts said. “There should be lane restrictions and measures to reduce speed in place to avoid traffic conflict,” Ram said.

Traffic police, meanwhile, are on the wait-and-watch mode. “We’ll deploy additional staff and issue directions to NHAI after reviewing traffic mobility once the underpass becomes functional,” an officer said.

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