Residents and commuters of the eastern suburbs are facing a harrowing time on Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Marg because of ongoing work on several infrastructure projects between Kurla and Mulund. Apart from the frequent traffic snarls faced by commuters, the work has hit pedestrians too as footpaths at many places on LBS Marg have been taken over for widening.
The 21-km arterial stretch, which runs from Sion till Thane, is presently witnessing construction for the Wadala to Kasarvadavali Metro 4, construction of storm water drains along the roads and footpath widening. Residents between Bhandup and Kanjurmarg seem to be severely affected as simultaneous work on these projects is holding up traffic as well as pedestrians.
Shirish Daudkhane, a resident of Bhandup’s Mahindra Splendour CHS, said: “The traffic has become worse and it takes 40 minutes to cover 1.5 km from my residence to office as the road width has reduced due to Metro barricading and footpath-widening work. Tuesday was worst as it took me more than one and a half hour to cover about 3 km, something that did not happen in years. Moreover, even if I want to walk that distance it is impossible to do that as the over 3.5-km stretch between Vikhroli and Kanjurmag has been dug up for pavement widening. The existing footpaths are 1-2 metres wide and now the civic body is making them up to 3.6 metres wide.”
He added: “This will shrink the road further as there is no extra space. When we started to follow up with the authorities we got to know the contractor has NOC from traffic police to carry out work at night but they are doing it in the day. Development is fine but it should be in a planned manner.”
Residents of Bhandup and Kanjurmarg organised a peaceful human chain protest on January 26 from Splendour Tower to Gandhi Nagar Chowk in Vikhroli. Uma Venkat, another resident of LBS Road, said: “The evening before the protest, the BMC cleared the debris and filled up the dug-up roads on a war footing.”
On the other side, at the Kurla-Kalina junction, ongoing work for construction of bridges and a flyover has slowed down traffic, with the arm in the direction of Kalina causing more chaos. Citizen activist from Kurla Jitendra Gupta said: “Apart from these infrastructure projects, the LBS Road near Kurla is seeing traffic chaos due to double parking on roadsides. Also, the ongoing drainage and footpath repair work puts pedestrians at risk. There is a storm water drain construction going on since months but very little progress has been made.”
Anson Saldana, a Bhandup resident, said: “Since the Metro construction started, LBS Marg has become a two-lane road from a three-lane one while the number of vehicles has remained the same. Moreover, of the two lanes, one is occupied by auto-rickshaws as they queue up to fill CNG. Besides, the timing of the signals needs to be increased for better vehicular movement as the connecting roads have more seconds then they need, resulting in pile-ups on LBS Marg.”
Zubin Zacharias, a Mulund resident and a mechanical engineer, said: “There are lots of construction work taking place on LBS Marg due to which movement of heavy vehicles has also increased. So when these trucks leave the construction sites, a car just cannot overtake them, we have to stay behind and follow them instead. In order to reach our destination on time, we have started making more use of two-wheelers.”
Another resident Sushank Marla said: “The BMC and the traffic authorities have started making broader footpaths, so that there is no illegal parking but this has certainly gone against everyone because the lanes have been shortened and the drivers are not following the norms and still parking their vehicles on the road.”
Residents said they have been raising the matter with the BMC and other authorities but the response has been poor.
Despite repeated attempts, Chief Engineer (Roads and Traffic) Arun Nadgorda was not available for comment.
A senior official from BMC’s traffic department said: “Under BIGRS (Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative of Global Road Safety), the road department has taken some footpath-widening work at LBS and some stretch has been completed.
Our aim is to give pedestrian-friendly pavements but at the same time other infrastructure work has been started, which has created chaos in the area. Considering citizens’ complaints and inconvenience we are trying to finish remaining work as soon as possible.”
Joint Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar (traffic) said: “We are aware about the congestion on LBS Marg due to Metro construction. We are looking at the issue… how we can have smoother movement there. As of now we have already deployed more men there who are helping the already posted traffic officials. Besides we have started taking action against illegally parked vehicles.”