Fifteen months have gone since the stretch between Indian Oil Corporation junction and Bharathi Ula Road was closed for traffic for building an elevated corridor

Madurai

Fifteen months have passed since the stretch of New Natham Road between Indian Oil Corporation junction and Bharathi Ula Road was closed for traffic to take up construction of an elevated corridor.

The project is all about providing a four-way elevated corridor for 7.3 km between IOC junction and Chettikulam on New Natham Road. Beyond that the four-way road would run on the ground up to Thuvarankurichi via Natham, providing a shorter four-way highway to Tiruchi.

The work that started in November 2018 has been scheduled to be completed in 24 months.

“It has been a tough ordeal to ride or drive on New Natham Road ever since the work started,” complains A. Ramalinga Siva, a resident of Kalai Nagar. A regular user of this road, Mr. Siva says the potholes have been testing his patience. “While nothing could be done to prevent the dust while riding a motorbike, what is more dangerous is vehicles not following lane discipline,” he says.

Especially school and college bus drivers give the go-by to lane discipline and take wrong lanes to bypass slow-moving vehicles.

“This is a nightmarish experience as all of a sudden you would be confronted by speeding buses during the morning hours and they do not have any concern for the safety of other road users,” he complains.

Two-wheeler riders are worst affected due to lack of signboards on dug-up portion of roads. “This makes night ride more dangerous,” laments one of them.

However, there seems to be some relief from potholes for road users coming in the near future. “We plan to open the road for vehicular traffic for some 1.2 km to enable smooth conduct of Lord Kallazhagar procession,” said V. Saravanan, Project Director, National Highways Authority of India.

The work has been progressing well and out of the total 189 piers, 174 piers have been erected. The caps have been provided to 148 piers. The launchers are working in three different stretches – near Bharati Ula Road, Naganakulam and Oomachikulam.

Work of launching girders (using pre-stressed concrete segments) on 32 spans out of 188 spans has been completed.

“A major portion of the work of girder launching on the 1.2-km-long stretch between IOC junction and Mariamman Temple in Armed Reserve Ground (up to the theatre complex) has been completed. With two full months left for the Chitirai festival, we plan to complete the remaining work and make the road usable for Lord Kallazhagar’s procession,” he added.

The procession that starts at Kallazhagar Temple in Alagarkoil winds through Alagarkoil Road up to Pudur. Then it reaches Mariamman Temple on New Natham Road and then turns towards IOC junction. Thousands of devotees wait and follow Lord Kallazhagar all the way, for which a smooth road is inevitable for their safety.

NHAI officials say that they had taken up similar works of making the road safe for devotees during the festival last year. “We had removed all the barricades put around each pillar and filled up the dug-up portions of the road,” an official added.

The road was cleared of all debris and protruding iron rods of the piers were covered. Warning boards were kept to caution the devotees to keep away from the piers. “We are going to do the same with better facilities this year,” he added.

With the construction of drainage and duct on both sides of the road already completed, the officials are expediting the girder launching so that the first layer of the bitumen road could be laid to make it motorable.

An NHAI official said that with the existing road having been dug up very deep to erect the piers, the ground would not get settled easily. “We have been doing this job of filling up the dug-up portion layer by layer so that it is tightly packed and when the road is laid, it does not sink in,” the official added.

While last year, the stretch between IOC junction and Bharathi Ula Road remained closed even during Chithirai festival, this time it would be opened for the procession to pass through.

“Though the road would be opened for the festival, it would be closed intermittently for taking up further works, like putting up the slab over the girder, construction of crash barriers and median and painting work,” he added. And finally, one more layer of bitumen top would be laid.

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