Is Hyderabad’s transformation into a flyover city easing traffic woes?

Leaders from the BJP and the governing BRS have frequently traded charges over several projects.

WrittenBy:Jahnavi
Date:
The Shaikpet flyover in Hyderabad.
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Every few months, a new flyover, overbridge, or underpass is inaugurated in Hyderabad. Most of these projects are part of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi government’s Strategic Road Development Plan, aimed at building better infrastructure for Hyderabad to ease traffic movement in the increasingly congested city. 

This involves road widening works, grade separators, bridges, flyovers, underpasses and other works, which have given Hyderabad quite a makeover in recent years. Under phase I of SRDP, 48 works worth Rs 8,052 crore were taken up. As of November 1, 37 of these works were completed, according to M Devanand, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC)’s Chief Engineer (Projects). Phase II of SRDP recently received administrative sanction, with an outlay of Rs 4,305 crore for another 27 road infrastructure projects in Hyderabad. 

While leaders from the BJP and the governing BRS have frequently traded charges over road infrastructure in the city, what has been the impact of the projects that have been planned and completed in Hyderabad so far? 

Earlier this year, GHMC roped in a team from National Institute of Technology (NIT), Warangal, to conduct a Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation (BME) study of the flyovers and other roadworks built under SRDP so far. While the study is yet to conclude, Devanand said the Corporation has observed an increase in speed of commute, reduction in pollution and fuel usage, and an improvement in the overall health of the people residing at the junctions that would get jammed in the absence of these flyovers. “Especially the problems faced at every junction have been resolved, at some places completely, and at some places only partially because of various constraints. But overall, the average speed of vehicles on the roads has increased,” he said, leading to an overall reduction in traffic congestion. He added that with fewer vehicles stopping at junctions and the amount of pollutant particulate matter going down, people residing or working in such areas are now less likely to suffer respiratory problems. 

However, speeding on flyovers has also led to many serious accidents, the most infamous one being the 2019 Biodiversity flyover incident in which a speeding car came crashing down onto the road below. A 56-year-old woman, Satyaveni, was killed in the accident and three others suffered serious injuries. Several other serious accidents, many of them involving two-wheelers, have also occurred on other flyovers including JNTU - Malaysian Township flyover, Shaikpet flyover, and Durgam Cheruvu cable bridge, all of which were opened during the second term of the BRS government. 

Devanand insisted that most of the accidents were caused by speeding drivers who exceeded the limit of 40-60 kmph. Speed bumps and rumble strips have been placed on these flyovers as per the Indian Road Congress guidelines, he said. 

Anant Maringanti, executive director of city-based research and action initiative Hyderabad Urban Labs, is of the opinion that while the SRDP flyovers may alleviate traffic in the short run, there is no modelling that establishes that these projects will be useful for even the next 20 years. “Ten years from now, all the new SRDP flyovers could turn as busy as the Begumpet junction today. They have been built using the same strategy,” he said. He added that since traffic affects everybody, there is a lot of goodwill towards anybody who, even for five years, reduces traffic congestion. “That’s what the SRDP is about.”

SRDP’s major road projects

While the SRDP Phase I works began during the BRS government’s first term, here’s a look back at the major road projects opened up in the city since December 2018, during Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s second term, and what purpose the government claims they will serve. 

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A few more projects are under progress, such as the Uppal flyover, Bachupally flyover and road widening, and expansion of Fatehnagar flyover. In June 2023, slabs from an under-construction flyover at Bairamalguda collapsed, injuring seven workers and an engineer. The flyover, being built under SRDP, will connect Bairamalguda junction near LB Nagar to Sagar Ring Road.

Speaking about the problems that pedestrians continue to face along the stretches where these new SRDP flyovers have been built, public transport researcher G Sai Ratna Chaitanya cited the example of the road no. 45 flyover that connects Jubilee Hills to Durgam Cheruvu. He said that typically the flyover is completed first and the road below it after that, and the footpaths are built only a few months later. “Until then, it’s quite difficult to use [these roads]. It might be easier to walk now along the longer flyovers, but the intersections have not been treated very well even after the flyovers were opened.” 

The latest example is the flyover going through RTC crossroads (Indira Park-VST steel bridge opened in August this year), said Sai Ratna. “The intersection is not open even after the construction of the flyover, hence it’s quite difficult for people to cross there because it’s not a signalised intersection anymore. It’s the same case with the road no. 45 flyover, near the entrance to the Dr BR Ambedkar Open University. In the case of the Kothaguda flyover, even though the Kothaguda junction is signalised, it’s quite wide in one direction, it’s difficult to cross within the signal time because it’s always a free left. The same pattern is emerging everywhere, which is that intersection treatments have not been done very well,” he said.

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