Sucheta Dalal :Bettering traffic-safety near Mumbai airports
Sucheta Dalal

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Bettering traffic-safety near Mumbai airports  

March 24, 2008

Timing the signals is just one of the solutions to reduce traffic at junctions near airports. The chaos in these areas is very small an issue compared to the larger scheme of things. For some unknown reason, the contractor doing the flyover near the domestic airport area in Mumbai has opened up lanes between finished columns and the props for the precast beams. This has resulted in vehicles taking the short cuts, and coming out of all all sorts of nooks and corners, without any warning, and they do not care to follow signals even when the junction is manned; particularly autos, taxis, private taxis. And this has created unbelievable problems for drivers, and those untrained traffic wardens, whose job is to wave hands and blow whistles. As mentioned above, those manning the junction are novices - absolutely untrained, unskilled, and they think that by moving their vehicle right upto the edge of the moving traffic, the speed of flow can be increased. This is completely out of any known traffic management manual ans as good as doing exactly what the doctor has prohibited from doing. Lighting, which is an absolute necessity at the junction; especially since the vehicles are now coming from all corners possible,is not there at all. There is no cats' eyes on the road, no traffic management in the late night, early morning hours. It is a nightmare in the night with vehicles racing with dazzling lights, intense enough to blind the vehicles coming out from he airport and nearby roads. As I frequently have to make the trips to the Andheri airport, , I have faced problems at this junction too often. This problem can be resolved by realigning the traffic as suggested on numerous occasions. I really can't understand how we are accepting this situation just outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport? It only requires a bit of reorganization, and we'll get safer, smoother and speedier traffic at the junction. I suggest to realign the traffic leading to some stations ,like, to Andheri West, Vile Parle West, Borivali West and East, Dadar East. Make the Andheri Kurla Road two way right from Andheri Station East, and also the HarGovind Road from Gokhale Bridge end to MA Road junction. Now that the arrival and departure terminals are operational at CSIA (Santa Cruz), it is even more imperative to realign traffic on AYJ Western Express Highway, and inverse the entry and exit to the Santa Cruz Terminals of CSIA, around the Sahara Star. The same would make it far more efficient, safer for pedestrians and drivers. A similar plan should be emulated for the Sahar airport too. Now since there is construction work ongoing at flyover near Centaur Airport Hotel / Jal Hotel Signal on Ali Yavar Jung Western Express Highway, and also since internal traffic directions have changed within the domestic terminal area of CSIA, it will be useful to consider a change, on the way traffic enters and exits both the domestic and international complexes of CSIA. DOMESTIC Due to the construction work in progress, the traffic now accumulates in both directions around the junctions throughout the day, which will continue even after the flyover is made open to vehicles. With the exit from the departures being cut through the 'centre' of the parking lot and opening out at the point where traffic currently enters and bifurcates to both the terminals 1A and 1B, there is every chance of head on collisions taking place. Apart from the safety aspect, it would make logical sense for the traffic to be realigned and made to follow a 'clockwise' direction entering the terminal complex, and of course, exiting it. This means, entry should be from the North of Sahara Star, and exit from South, exactly contradictory to what is at present. Apart from the shiny building and now dazzling lighting on the roads, people should enter and leave the airport complex in a hassle free manner. As it is, private taxis, taxis, airline contracted vehicles, autos, postal vehicles, and many other vehicles do not bother about the one ways within, and go against the traffic, making it dangerous for most vehicles trying to negotiate the road. And even within the airport complex, the criss-crossing of vehicles make it dangerous for drivers. Not to mention the VIP / VVIP drivers, who think they own the entire area. This realignment will relieve traffic and reduce the 'cutting' and 'crossing' of lanes less dangerous at both the signals because the flow will be more organized. And certainly, it will be easier for the traffic duty personnel on the site. INTERNATIONAL There is work going on to make new ramps for both the terminals at Sahar, even so, this idea will make for better traffic management. In other words, the traffic going up the departures ramp and below for the arrivals, can also be realigned, so as to make for smoother and easier flow. At present it is utter chaos at the intersection on the departures level. Vehicles turn left for Terminal 2A, natural flow, and turn right for 2C, against the natural flow. Loading and unloading takes place in oncoming traffic on the left side of the vehicle. Vehicles wanting to go up to 2C should go up from the North East, i.e left wing of the ramp, where they are presently coming down, and finally exit with all other vehicles at the South West ramp. This will give a far more smoother flow to the traffic. Also, MIAL should open up the walls of 2A, put large glass windows, which would enable those seeing off passengers to view their people inside, and relieve the congestion at the entrance points. Vehicles too should be guided into unloading spots which are available all along the long building, but due to the psychology of getting as close to the gate, cars bunch up. It's not very difficult. Besides, for the arrivals also, it is totally against common sense to have the vehicles come in from the 'left' of the base of the ramp, and come out onto the exit. Instead, all vehicles should be made to go on straight, at Ambassador signal, turn right with the flow of the road, and enter the arrivals area. It's a different thing that to generate revenue, MIAL has stopped the system of pick-up from arrivals. Now instead, vehicles are forcibly directed into the pay and park area. **** By Jagdeep Desai (He is an architect and secretary and founder trustee of Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai / Suburbs ( IQOLMS) .
-- Sucheta Dalal