The proposal to widen six roads – actually, just small segments of these roads – lacks everything we would wish for in urban design. It’s not part of an overall strategy of mobility in the city; it’s not clear what goals are expected to be achieved; it’s not being done as per the KTCP Act which requires these projects to be carried out through town planning schemes, and it doesn’t even copy the best of such efforts from other parts of India.
First, they are not proposing to actually widen roads, but only some stretches of the roads. Widening Bannerghatta Road from Dairy Circle to Sagar Apollo junction, for example, will address only about 1/10th of the total length of the road. Similarly, widening the outer ring road between Silk Board and Jayadeva hospital will still leave a large chunk of the ring road up to Mysore Road junction unaddressed.
Secondly, what many of the roads need is not widening, but better flow. This can be achieved by first constructing the necessary under-passes and overpasses to handle the junctions. Silk Board junction, the most important node of South Bangalore, has remained in this poor state for almost six years now, with plans for its improvement never taking off.
Moreover, the widening is also not part of any larger strategy for mobility, but merely a set of ‘projects’ to keep BDA busy in the short term. What would be better is to complete the ongoing strategy of BBMP to make the Big10 roads and the Outer Ring Road signal free. This will create a preferred mobility corridor for movement in and out of the city, and also around the city. Such differentiation between high volume corridors and other roads is necessary to have any chance of managing the growing demand for mobility infrastructure.
And finally, all of this would have been ok, if the announcement had also included some plans to improve bus service and pedestrian facilities. I am confident that on many stretches, if the ‘widened portion’ is given for a wider footpath and better bus bays, a lot more people would benefit, than simply making more and more space for cars.