For daily commuters between Delhi and Gurgaon, Thursday was a smooth ride. The first one, perhaps, in over two years. Traffic flowed smoothly on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway after the toll plaza at Sirhaul became defunct on Wednesday midnight.
The chaotic scenes in front of Ambience Mall, a regular sight over the years during peak hours, was absent on Thursday.
The U-turn in front of the mall, which had been closed off late Wednesday on National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) instructions, was partially reopened by Gurgaon traffic police around 9 am.
“Originally, U-turns were provided on both sides of the toll plaza so that those coming from either side and wanting to go back didn’t have to cross the toll booth. Now that the toll plaza is defunct, the U-turns have been closed. If the U-turns are kept open, it will result in a wider median cut on the road, which is not permitted on an expressway,” NHAI general manager Ashok Sharma said.
“Also, such a cut increases the possibility of accidents manifold since vehicles turning around will come in the way of those coming straight at full speed. I heard that the Gurgaon traffic police opened a U-turn (before the toll plaza on the Gurgaon side) in the morning. I told them they had no power to open it. In such a case, action can also be taken against them as per the National Highways Act, for trespassing,” Sharma said.
He said the NHAI will permanently close the gaps which has been created because of the two U-turns.
Now, a motorist coming from Gurgaon and wishing to go to Ambience Mall will have to cross the toll and go all the way to an underpass — about 2km ahead — from where they turn back towards Ambience.
According to Sharma, IDFC are the effective operators of the expressway and they, along with police, were responsible for ensuring that this issue of U-turn is sorted out.
Amidst vehicles and traffic police, employees of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation could be seen around the plaza, flagging down commercial vehicles and directing them towards the first four lanes on the left to collect toll.
Vehicles could be seen crisscrossing as drivers, not aware of the new arrangement, were made to shift to the appropriate lanes.
Though there wasn’t any glitch in traffic flow around the toll plaza even during peak rush hours, Gurgaon traffic police personnel were concerned that traffic may build up a little ahead of the plaza towards Gurgaon due to the red light at IFFCO Chowk.
“Now, vehicles will reach the red light much faster. The light doesn’t change very quickly, so there might be a jam there because of that,” a police officer said.
Obstructions were also placed in front of a few lanes around 100 metres from the toll booths with the intention of breaking the speed of incoming traffic.