Mumbai: Are construction works of Metro-2A, Metro-7 and other projects increasing traffic in city?

Leaving the update of Metros of Mumbai aside, at this point of time, the WEH is a complete bowl of mess that needs immediate attention

Shashank Rao | Somendra Sharma | Updated on: Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 11:07 PM IST

Mumbai traffic |
Mumbai traffic |

Mumbai has over 42 lakh vehicles running on its road with a density of 2100 vehicles per kilometer of stretch. One of the badly affected stretches is the Western Express Highway that is perennially marred by traffic snarls. Motorists queue up one behind the other like ants --- moving slowly. This is despite the fact that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) partly started Metro-7 route on Dahisar (E) to Aarey that plies on WEH; which is a part of the 20-kms line combining with Metro-2A on Dahisar (W) to Dhanukarwadi.

Metro rail and subway widening on WEH

And the remaining portion till Andheri (E) of Metro-7 is expected to be opened by August 15, though considering the on-going pace of work; seems unlikely. Leaving the update of Metros of Mumbai aside, at this point of time, the WEH is a complete bowl of mess that needs immediate attention. The transport experts claim that the planning of projects could have been streamlined and that the government needs to exercise control

To begin with, let’s talk about the latest addition to Mumbai’s mass transit --- the Metro-7 and Metro-2A. The Metro-7 plies on WEH. However the rush isn’t visible during weekdays, especially during peak hours which are what the Metro line is meant to do. Throughout its construction, the Metro-7 had become a sore for motorists due to the long traffic jams; however despite it partially starting, there is not much respite.

According to transport experts, the MMRDA should have taken up Metro-2A first right till D N Nagar in Andheri (W) that is constructed on Link Road. “The Metro-7 is built on WEH, which has effectively taken up space for vehicles. The highway is closer to the railway stations plus it runs parallel to the suburban trains, so Metro-7 could have been taken later, while focusing on completing Metro-2A entirely which is quite away from the railway stations. We can only hope that more people take the Metro-7 once it is fully connected all the way till Andheri (E),” said AV Shenoy, Mumbai Mobility Forum.

At the launch of Metro lines that happened earlier this month, the tentative deadline for starting the second phase is August though sources claim that its chances are less. At the site, work is going in full flow with number of barricades also coming down than what it was in the past. However the problem that motorists face the most is also due to the ongoing WEH upgrading work being carried out by MMRDA.

WEH improvement

The planning authority is widening the vehicular subways at Kandivali and Malad on WEH. This however has narrowed down the width of the road and created bottleneck of sorts due to sudden barricading. Plus there are Metro stations close by which too has eaten up part of the road space. The MMRDA in a bid to provide seamless traffic movement on the WEH, has estimated a Rs 200 crore upgradation plan.

The scope of work mainly includes the improvement of the main carriage way, slip lanes and service roads by bituminous treatment, repairing the nullah, widening existing subways and constructing new ones, improving the storm water drain, footpaths and other ancillary activities on WEH. The work has been divided into seven parts.

With the flyovers already there, the authorities want to make WEH signal free. The main intention is to improve WEH so as to decongest vehicular movement. There are plans to install anti-crash barriers to prevent accidents on WEH, frame a policy for foot over bridges (FoB) on the highway and install new signages, amongst others.

“The simplest thing is to setup dedicated bus lanes on WEH which has 5 lanes on each side. One bus lane will cater to vehicles playing on three lanes which makes it all the more sensible,” said Ashok Datar, transport expert.

Rising vehicle numbers

As of January 2022, there are 4.09 crore vehicles in Maharashtra of which close to 42.13 lakh vehicles are in Mumbai itself. Out of these there has been an increase of 4.9 percent in 2-wheelers, light motor cars and jeeps have gone up by 3.5 percent while there is a considerable drop in private buses by 31 percent. Mumbai is expected to see an increase of 4.1 percent in 2022 as compared to 2021.

The bike population is over 25 lakh and that of cars is over 11 lakh while remaining are other vehicles. In comparison there are 3500 BEST buses, 2.20 lakh auto rickshaws, 18000 taxis and 80000 odd aggregator cabs. Zoru Bhatena, environmental activist and regular user of public and private transportation said: “Not every flyover is bad but before building them, there has to be a reason for it. Also, there needs to be proper last mile connectivity in place from Metro stations, else people will continue to their personal vehicles”.

Sources said that in March 2018 or so there were 33.52 lakh vehicles, which touched 40 lakh in March 2021 while in financial year of 2022, it has crossed 42 lakh. Sources said that out of the 42-odd lakh vehicles in Mumbai, roughly around 48 percent of it is registered in RTOs of Andheri and Borivali that is northern suburbs. The remaining are registered in Tardeo and Wadala RTOs catering entire island city and eastern suburbs.

The traffic officials have opined that simultaneous work on the 33 different infrastructure projects going on at the WEH has resulted in the congestion of traffic at the stretch. The traffic officials believe that if these projects are completed in the stipulated time and projects are initiated one at a time can improve the traffic scenario vastly.

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Published on: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 06:49 AM IST