Cops call in more force to tackle Majerhat bridge rush
Times of India, 05 December 2020
Kolkata: The average peak-hour traffic on the first day of Majerhat bridge service resumption has increased significantly than when it was in use before collapsing in 2018, courtesy an increase in the bridge’s vehicle-carrying capacity, a significant rise in the number of two-wheelers and cars, which was triggered by the collapse, and a large number of ‘bridge tourists’ who were there for a fun ride.
Cops on morning duty said they were astounded at the sheer number of vehicles clogging the Majerhat bridge as well as the Taratala bridge from as early as 8am. To control the rush, cops suspended movement of buses for a brief period in the morning but allowed them during the peak hours as more traffic sergeants from multiple guards were called in on special duty.
“The morning peak-hour traffic on Day I was much more than what we had anticipated. But it was mostly because there were a large number of passengers on cars and bikes who were not regular commuters on the route but were driving along the bridge just for the experience of it. They even drove at a slower pace than usual to film the bridge while on the move,” said a traffic sergeant posted at the Mominpore end of the bridge.
The cops’ assessment was partly correct as TOI found a number of cars crawling along the middle of the bridge while its passengers stuck their head out and filmed the structure. Some bikers even parked their two-wheelers on one side of the bridge and clicked selfies. To clear traffic, sergeants on bikes even started making rounds of the bridge, asking people to keep moving and clear the traffic mess. By evening, the snarls had eased to a great extent.
Motorists using the bridge, however, said they were enthralled with the first day-first ride. "It was worth the wait. The bridge looks and feels much more safe and stable. It would have been better had the bridge been ready a few months ago but I am happy that such a beautiful piece of architecture now stands in our neighbourhood," said Subhajit Roy Chowdhury, a Behala resident who drove to and from his Dalhousie office using the bridge on Friday.
Transport experts TOI spoke to said before its collapse, the bridge was meant for three-lane traffic with no median dividers. Plus, the bridge road was uneven with an underlying tram track and there were pavements on either side, allowing people to jaywalk and hop on buses, slowing down traffic movement. Its peak-hour capacity then was 350 vehicles per hour.
But giving away the pavements on both sides, the bridge is now capable of four-lane traffic movement. Add to that the smooth road and the bridge’s current vehicle carrying capacity — 850 per hour.
“But since the roads on either side of the bridge have not had any major upgrade, peak-hour traffic congestions will linger as vehicles will have to slow down once they approach the ends,” said Ajay Das, former chief traffic transportation engineer of the state transport department.