By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe
City life is stressful. Everybody is running around like crazy, stuck in traffic jams trying to make meetings, trying to make ends meet, trying to meet deadlines, trying to get kids to and from activities. There aren’t enough hours in the day for all this business.
Media reported that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the Rajagiriya flyover is to be declared open by President Maithripala Sirisena in Januray 2018. More flyovers will be constructed at other locations around Colombo soon. It was stated that road traffic congestion is having a negative impact on the economy and it needs to be addressed soon. While there is severe traffic congestion in Rajagiriya as a result of the work being carried out on the new flyover, that congestion is only temporary. The Prime Minister said that steps are being taken to construct a flyover near the Kelaniya Bridge to reduce traffic congestion in the area. More flyovers will be constructed in other areas as well and this will help strengthen the economy of the country.
Meanwhile, it was reported that work on the other two proposed new flyovers at Ganemulla and Polgahawela is progressing rapidly.
Road Development Authority (RDA) Director of UK Steel Bridges and Spanish Flyover Project, stated that these flyovers will ease the heavy traffic congestion in Borella, Rajagiriya, Ganemulla and Polgahawela areas and avoid delays experienced by motorists. The Rajagiriya flyover is to be constructed in two phases. Most of the work of the Rajagiriya flyover from Battaramulla to Borella has already been completed. Utmost vigilance has to be exercised in such constructions as any lapse could lead to disastrous consequences.
Meanwhile, the cumulative physical progress of the Polgahawela flyover and Ganemulla flyover is nearing completion. Piling work has already been completed on the Ganemulla and Polgahawela flyovers while the erection of the structures has begun. “Construction of the Rajagiriya flyover is an urgent need due to the heavy traffic congestion experienced any time of the day in the area. The project will help ease traffic congestion at Sri Jayewerdenepura Mawatha, Borella, Battaramulla and Rajagiriya by reducing the traffic between the main flows at Rajagiriya Junction,” the RDA Director said.
The length of the flyover is 533 metres, while its width is 21.4 metres. This will be a four-lane flyover along Parliament Road constructed at a cost of Rs. 4.6 billion funded by the Spanish Government. The three flyover projects are built with Spanish aid and expertise fully overseen by the RDA.
Traffic congestion has a number of negative effects such as wasting time of motorists and passengers. As a non-productive activity for most people, congestion reduces regional economic health, delays, which may result in late arrival for employment, meetings, and education, resulting in lost business, disciplinary action or other personal losses, inability to forecast travel time accurately, leading to drivers allocating more time to travel “just in case”, and less time on productive activities, wasted fuel increasing air pollution and carbon dioxide emission owing to increased idling, acceleration and braking, wear and tear on vehicles as a result of idling in traffic and frequent acceleration and braking, leading to more frequent repairs and replacements, stressed and frustrated motorists, encouraging road rage and reduced health of motorists. In emergencies, blocked traffic may interfere with the passage of emergency vehicles including ambulances transporting patients in need of urgent medical care, travelling to their destinations where they are urgently needed. There is also the spillover effect from congested main arteries to secondary roads and side streets as alternative routes are attempted, which may affect neighbourhood amenity and real estate prices and the higher chance of collisions due to tight spacing and constant stopping-and-going.
Traffic congestion obviously causes road rage which is aggressive or angry behaviour by a driver of an automobile or other motor vehicle. Such behaviour might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions which result in injuries and even deaths.
Some experts have opined that bridge construction technology has provided ample reasons to construct Concrete Bridges and Flyovers instead of Steel Bridges and Flyovers. Steel Bridges could be completed within a few months unlike Concrete Bridges or flyovers requiring many more months. The Dehiwala flyover has cost the country Rs 920 million, the Nugegoda flyover Rs 878 million and Kelaniya flyover Rs 2.1 billion.
In conclusion, to ease harmful traffic congestion which undoubtedly causes severe losses to the national economy and leads to other disadvantages as described above, Sri Lanka needs more flyovers and expressways as the volume of traffic increases daily with increased vehicle imports. As Brazilian politician Jaime Lerner said: ‘If you provide good alternatives for public transport, you won’t have traffic problems.’
Courtesy : Ceylon Today