Story of a Missing Median

For my first post, I’ve decided to chronicle the three-year struggle to get Corporation of Chennai to provide a raised permanent concrete median opposite the Perambur Railway Station

For my first post, I’ve decided to chronicle the three-year struggle to get Corporation of Chennai to provide a raised permanent concrete median opposite the Perambur Railway Station extending upto Adayar Ananda Bhavan, covering Venkatraman Canal Street and Perambur High Road intersection, similar to the median installed opposite to the Railway Kalyana Mandapam on Perambur High Road.

In April 2015, residents from Perambur filed petitions with the Corporation of Chennai asking them to replace the existing median made up of concrete blocks. The centre median made up of concrete blocks had surfaced or carpeted with the level of road due to continuous resurfacing of stretch on both the sides without proper milling. We noticed two-wheeler riders and even some auto drivers crossing over the median and causing obstruction and inconvenience to fellow commuters and decided to take up the issue with the concerned agencies.

When the existing road was resurfaced before the 2016 Tamilnadu Assembly elections, the entire median was removed and even though we were promised that a permanent median would be put in place after the road work is completed, nothing was done. After several representations a very small stretch of median was installed with the concrete blocks and this did not help ease out the problems in any manner.

Then the small stretch of median made of concrete blocks was later removed and replaced with metal barricades. Ever since the median has been removed the traffic opposite to the Perambur Railway Station has been chaotic and the residents have been finding it very difficult to cross this stretch of road with two-wheelers, share autos, autos and other vehicles making a turn without any traffic sense.

Even the metal barricades were inexplicably removed after a while and shifted in front of the shops in the area.The absence of the median has only helped the commercial establishments to encroach upon the public space with haphazard parking of two-wheelers in multiple rows during the peak hour. The metal barricades have been placed along the entrance to the Hotels and Commercial establishments in a manner that it provides Parking Space for their customers. One can notice that the footpaths have also been encroached upon.

Metal barricades in front of shops, inconveniencing pedestrians Pic: Raghukumar C

With little choices left, further petitions were filed with the concerned agencies asking them to install a permanent median.

In response to this petition, the Assistant Engineer, BRR, Zone 6, called on us personally on October 19, 2016 and we voiced our concerns. He  agreed to process our request for the median immediately and promised that he will be issuing a letter concerning the same to the K1 Police Station and wanted us to at the same time, take up the matter with the Enforcement Agencies as well in order to avoid any last minute delays.

We sent an e-mail to the concerned authorities the very same day and sought their help in giving the permission to establish the centre median immediately and subsequently received a feedback from the enforcement agencies on November 22, 2016 stating that they have taken up the matter Assistant Commissioner of Police. We received another reply on February 6, 2017 saying that the permission has been granted and that temporary metal barricades will be used to form a centre median until the work on the permanent median is taken up.

Since then, there has been absolutely no progress and all our efforts have been futile. When inquired as to why there has been a significant delay in getting such issues of public interest resolved, we were given to understand that a powerful lobby comprising of both politicians and officials with commercial interests are blocking the erection of a permanent median.

With little options left we filed further petitions and a few months ago we received a call from the new Assistant Engineer, BRR, Zone 6. He promised to look into the matter and help us out, however we did not hear back from him even after waiting for several weeks.

To keep the issue alive,we lodged another complaint on June 11, 2017 and received a feedback from the Superintending Engineer, BRR, Zone 6 dated September 20, 2017 stating that they have filed a request for the police permission and the matter is still pending.

The missing road median makes the entire stretch a “Free for All” causing a lot of discomfort for those who want to follow the rules. At the end of the day it’s the pedestrian who is the most affected. Road Medians are especially important at transit stops. Transit stops are frequently located along busy arterials at uncontrolled crossing locations. Road Medians minimize the traffic flows and allow pedestrians a “time cushion” for the pedestrians to cross the road. The road median re-installation through this segment therefore seems to be the right thing to do.

The lack of seriousness on the part of the administration in addressing public grievances effectively is a matter of grave concern.

Here below are a few advantages of erecting a road median:
  • Have been found to reduce motor vehicle crashes by 15 percent.
  • Decrease delays (>30 percent) for motorists.
  • Have resulted in increase in capacity (>30 percent) of roadways.
  • Have been shown to reduce vehicle speeds on the roadway.
  • Provide space for landscaping within the right-of-way.
  • Provide space to install additional roadway lighting, further improving the safety of the roadway.
  • Provide space to provide supplemental signage on multi-lane roadways.

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