Ten days before the first of the two fatal accidents at the newly opened Signature Bridge, DCP (Traffic) Dr A Koan wrote to the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) regarding “construction of speed-calming measures and installation of cautionary signboards”.
In a letter dated November 13, Koan wrote: “It is observed that vehicles are overspeeding on the Signature Bridge. Motorists are finding it difficult to control their vehicles at high speed at the merging points of Signature Bridge to Ring Road or other roads, which may cause serious accidents.”
He requested the DTTDC that “rumble bars with cat eyes be constructed — with sufficient number of cautionary signboards that read ‘rumble strips ahead, go slow’, ‘merging traffic ahead, go slow’,” — and also asked for “speed limit signboards”. On November 23, two MBBS students died after their motorbike rammed a divider and fell off the bridge. The next day, a 24-year-old man died after his bike collided with a divider on the bridge. In both cases, Delhi Police have stated that the men were “overspeeding”.
A senior DTTDC official said, “Two signboards are in place and more are being put up. Rumble bars will be installed in a day or two. Signages were ready. This is not because of the accidents; it is procedural. We were told the men were driving rashly. The public must account for their own conduct. The speed limit in Delhi is between 40-60 km/hr and the men had obviously crossed that limit.” The official also alleged that “portions of the railing on the side of the bridge have been stolen and can cause damage”.
Between November 13 and 15, Koan wrote three more letters to DTTDC on installation of CCTVs at different points of the bridge, installation of view cutters, and deployment of traffic marshals. The letter dated November 15 states, “Motorists are performing stunts for filming videos. CCTV systems should be installed with sign boards ‘You are under CCTV surveillance’.” Another letter dated November 13 reads, “Viewcutters should be installed for physical safety and to reduce incentive of taking selfies.”
According to Joint CP (Traffic) Alok Kumar, “Police have issued more than 2,000 challans for various traffic violations at the bridge since its inauguration. Twelve traffic police personnel are also deployed at the spot from 8 am to 8 pm daily.” Police said 364 prosecutions were carried out on Sunday.
Professor P K Sarkar, Director (Transport) at the Asian Institute of Transport Development, pointed at the audits done for a project like the Signature Bridge. “At three stages, audits have to be done thoroughly before a bridge is opened to the public – design, construction, pre-opening. Governments have to involve road and transport experts for such projects. A bridge should not be opened without signages and rumble bars to begin with,” he said.