It is a nightmare for commuters taking Chennai’s GST Road at peak hours

From Meenambakkam to Tambaram and from Perungalathur to Singaperumal Koil, many motorists and public transport passengers are often stuck in traffic jams for hours together. Those using cars or two-wheelers have to move bumper to bumper every day

Updated - June 12, 2024 05:12 pm IST

Published - June 11, 2024 10:37 pm IST

A crucial road: After a brief spell of rain, the GST Road gets flooded from three inlets of the Pallavaram lake. The stretch has been taken over by commercial outlets. Sometimes, flooding causes traffic snarls, with vehicles queuing up five km on either side.

A crucial road: After a brief spell of rain, the GST Road gets flooded from three inlets of the Pallavaram lake. The stretch has been taken over by commercial outlets. Sometimes, flooding causes traffic snarls, with vehicles queuing up five km on either side. | Photo Credit: B. Velankanni Raj

Last Sunday, heavy traffic choked the Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road as thousands of families returned to the city ahead of the reopening of schools. And a large number of vehicles are caught in the traffic on this road at peak hours every day. From Meenambakkam to Tambaram and from Perungalathur to Singaperumal Koil, many motorists and public transport passengers are often stuck in snarls for hours. Those using cars or two-wheelers have to move bumper to bumper every day.

Besides being the gateway to the southern and central districts, the GST Road links the surrounding regions. As many commercial establishments and educational institutions are located on the road, a large number of commuters use it daily. A new bus terminus was opened at Kilambakkam on the GST Road for easing traffic congestion in the city limits. Omni-buses are not allowed to enter the city. But they continue to ply in the city in the early morning and late night hours. Traffic congestion is more at the Peerkankaranai junction on the Tambaram-Perungalathur Road. Anand Venkat, a businessman from Chromepet, says, “Even after new bridges were built, we face difficulties daily owing to heavy traffic from Chromepet to Tambaram and from Perungalathur to Singaperumal Koil. People who use their own vehicles will have to wait for long in the traffic.”

Social activist David Manohar says, “We encounter heavy traffic from the Alandur Metro Rail station. The carriageway has shrunk at places near the old airport at Pallavaram, with shops and street-vendors encroaching on the pedestrian path. Pedestrians are forced to walk on the carriageway, hindering the free flow of traffic.”

Encroached by shops

Many road-users say the traffic flow is affected immediately after they get down from the bridge near the airport towards Pallavaram. From there, both sides of the road are encroached upon by shops. It is tough to reach the bridge connecting the Pallavaram- Thoraipakkam Radial Road.

S. Vinodh, a regular commuter from Pallavaram, says, “At peak hours, there is traffic congestion from the Pallavaram bus stand, extending from Lakshmi Nagar, a shopping zone, up to the airport. The roads connecting the two lanes of the GST Road — one near the Super Saravana Stores and the other near the post office — are closed. The closure forces people to take the flyovers for turning around, and the flyovers get jammed. There are no policemen at the major traffic spots. During Muhurtham days, the traffic from or to the Pallavaram bus stand moves at a snail’s pace, as there is bumper-to-bumper traffic even beyond Chromepet.”

Parking on carriageway

At Chromepet, all buildings were allowed to convert their stilt car parking into retail outlets. Only three textile showrooms have parking lots. So the customers of shops without parking lots park their vehicles on the carriageway, some residents say.

“After a brief spell of rain, the GST Road in this part gets flooded from three inlets of the Pallavaram lake. The stretch has been taken over by commercial outlets. Sometimes, flooding causes traffic snarls, with vehicles queuing up five km on either side. Many complaints have been filed and officials have visited the area, but no action has been taken by the departments concerned,” says Mr. David Manohar.

After the MEPZ bus stand, the eastern side of the road is encroached upon by vendors, outlets, and temples up to the Tambaram railway station. G. Srinivasan, a motorist from Pallikaranai, says it is a short distance between Pallavaram and Perungalathur, but it takes nearly 45 minutes to cover it.”

S.R. Godwin Shadrach, an advocate and activist, says the recently constructed bridges are not wide enough. “They should have constructed them with a long-term vision. But they did not do so. The road from the Pallavaram Radial Road to Chromepet is broad enough. But when you cross the stretch, you will be stuck in traffic for 20-25 minutes,” he laments.

The traffic police have also closed a few intersections. Hence, the motorists have to go more than a kilometre to take a U-turn. To overcome the problem, people come in the wrong direction. The police should make a study before making such arrangements, says Mr. Shadrach. Near the Tambaram bus terminus, outgoing buses are parked haphazardly on the eastern side of the road. They block other vehicles. It is tough for the outgoing vehicles to cross the place and the policemen seldom regulate the traffic at late hours or early hours, the commuters complain.

At weekends, the traffic extends from the Kilambakkam Bus Terminus even after midnight, and crossing the Tambaram bus stand while moving towards Pallavaram is impossible, as heavy vehicles and government buses halt haphazardly. Huge crowds wait to board or get down from buses at random spots. This is a major inconvenience to two-wheeler riders and four-wheeler drivers. “Pedestrians, some holding children, jump over the medians to cross the roads, even when vehicles move. This is unsafe,” says R. Jegadeesh, a resident of Vengaivasal.

From the Irumbuliyur bridge to the Peerkankaranai junction, the motorists face congestion since the vehicles coming down from the Koyambedu bus stand converge at this point. Kathir, a resident of Selaiyur, says, “It has always been a nightmarish experience whenever we get down from buses in the early hours at the busy junction as autorickshaw drivers mob us. No policemen are on duty to regulate the traffic. There is no sign board on one side and congestion is always there on the other side.”

‘Pedestrians need space’

S. Narasimman, a former CPI(M) councillor, says, “Adequate space should be given to pedestrians to cross the road on the stretch and pedestrian bridges can be constructed at appropriate places. The authorities should take steps to push the bus stop on the eastern side at Tambaram to the side of the railway station after holding talks with the railway authorities so that congestion can be avoided. The expansion at Perungalathur should be expedited.”

A senior officer of the Tambaram City Police says, “Action will be taken to reduce the congestion, which is high at weekends and on holidays. The construction of the bridge is expected to be completed in a month at Perungalathur. Thereafter, the congestion will ease considerably.”

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