August 27, 2021 11:48:39 pm
A study by experts — a day after the Chandigarh administration sought a structural design for construction of an underpass between Panjab University and PGIMER, Chandigarh — on Friday suggested that an overpass was the ideal solution for the traffic mess in the area, rather than an underpass.
Several people shuttle between PU and PGI every day which had led to the UT Administration mulling over having a connecting passage between the two institutions. The engineering wing of the administration on Thursday had invited bids for the structural design of the pedestrian subway (underpass) and its construction. However, the Department of Urban Planning has raised red flags and expressed concerns over the construction of the underpass, and had suggested that a tabletop be built instead.
Recently, Sakar Foundation, a body comprising former nominated councillor architect, Surinder Bahga, along with several of his architect colleagues, had conducted a detailed study of the site and its surroundings and concluded that an underpass was not a viable solution.
As per an estimate, nearly 10,000 patients and their attendants visit PGI every day. Likewise, almost an equal number of students go to Panjab University daily. Such huge crowds crossing Madhya Marg leads to either accidents or disturbance in traffic flow, prompting experts from teh administration to look for a solution to the chaos.
“An underpass is not the solution because it will disturb all underground services like water supply, sewerage, stormwater disposal, telecom lines, during the deep digging of earth. It will disrupt traffic flow too for nearly two years besides being a costly solution,” the study by Sakar Foundation found.
“During rains, there remains a fear of water entering an underpass and making it non-functional. An underpass which is already existing between Sector 11 and 15 on Madhya Marg often got inundated during the last monsoon. The administration has failed to make it work,” the study further added.
An underpass, which is under construction between Rose Garden and Sector 17, has experienced several water leakages during the monsoons.
It has also been pointed out that natural light remains a permanent problem in such underpasses. Artificial light is the only solution, but these are hardly maintained and a costly alternative.
“If underpasses are not well lit, people will be scared of using them, thereby defeating the purpose. These underpasses are not disabled-friendly too due to the presence of large steps that lead underground. How will sick patients climb such huge steps to pass through this underpass?” the study further observed.
It also added, “Anti-social elements make women unsafe in these dark underpasses. Beggars sleep there. Drug addicts use them as a safe haven. Keeping in view all these demerits of an underpass, we propose an overpass between PU and PGI.”
What are the advantages of an overpass?
“The proposal of an overpass consists of a design that will have a ramp with a very gentle slope making it disabled-friendly. It is made of exposed concrete which is the favourite material of Le Corbusier, Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, and the man who prepared the master plan for the city of Chandigarh. It will be covered with trellis with creepers which will make it shaded too,” said architect Surinder Bahga, who worked on this design proposal with Ankush Kumar.
He also specified that Le Corbusier was not against overpasses.
“He himself proposed overpasses in the last phase of a four-phased development plan of roundabouts for coping with growing traffic,” Bahga said.
“It will be much more economical and act as a welcome gateway sculpture for vehicles coming from the New Chandigarh side. It will not disturb underground services and ongoing traffic movement at Madhya Marg,” added Engineer Neeraj Khurana, who was part of the team which prepared this proposal.
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