The 15-year-old roundabout with a diameter of 17 metres at Enchakkal Junction faded into memory on Sunday with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) removing it for the widening of the four-lane 26.7-km Kazhakuttam-Mukkola stretch of the National Highway 66 bypass.

The NHAI had removed the roundabout, with a height of half-a-metre from the road surface with a one-metre curb and footway in the outer layer, after securing permission from the city police as the works in the 1.5 km Chakka-Enchakkal corridor and the two km flyover at adjacent Chakkka has entered the last phase.

Traffic in the busy junction, which is one of the ‘black spots’ (accident prone sites) and gateway to the city from the bypass corridor, will be regulated by the traffic police personnel till the EPC contractor completes the four-laning works and traffic signals are installed. On Sunday after the roundabout was removed, traffic was regulated by an Assistant Sub Inspector and Civil Police Officer of the Traffic wing.

The NHAI has shelved the overpass that was to be constructed instead of the roundabout at the junction for movement of vehicles along the bypass. The overpass with 5.5-m vertical clearance as per the Indian Road Congress (IRC) specifications was shelved citing lack of funds and opposition from the locals.

“The city police have informed that they will press into force more manpower to regulate vehicular traffic on working days,” a NHAI official said. Service roads have been readied to reduce traffic congestion at Enchakkal junction. The vehicles from Chakka side can take free left from the junction to West Fort through the service road and for those coming from West Fort and Sreevarahom can move along the service road to Kovalam side using the free left concept, the official said.

But, the mouth of the corridor from the bypass to West Fort has not been widened and it will not have an impact.

Concerns have also been raised over the movement of the vehicles from Vallakadavu side to West Fort and from West Fort side to the bypass during the night in the absence of the roundabout and traffic signal. The wee hours of the day experience heavy traffic to the airport and the corridor is used by lorries and trucks coming from Tamil Nadu.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Law and Order & Traffic, Aadhithya R. told
The Hindu
that the removal of the roundabout as demanded by the NHAI for the four-laning works will ease congestion in Enchakkal junction, piling up of vehicles on the road leading to West Fort and Sreevarahom and at Chakka junction.

“We will be posting extra personnel from the traffic wing to regulate the vehicular traffic from Monday. The traffic situation will be monitored and adequate measures will be taken after reviewing it”, he added.

Inexpensive to build

Roundabouts are inexpensive to build, maintenance-free and cause less traffic delay when compared to traffic signals. The roundabout at Enchakkal was constructed to handle 8,000 passenger car units in an hour after the Railway OverbBridge at Chakka was built.

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