Closure of connecting roads poses difficulties to people
Nearly half of the ongoing Smart Road works in the capital is expected to be completed by February, providing some respite to passengers who have been facing difficulties due to the closure of key connecting roads in the city.
However, some of the other roadworks are likely to take some more months to complete.
Out of the 40 stretches of Corporation roads, totalling 9.87 km, work has begun only on 15 stretches of 3.2 km. Work on the rest of the stretches will be taken up only after completion of the ongoing work, to avoid more difficulties to road users.
The major component of the Smart Road project will be the 36.94 km of around 50 stretches of roads under the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) in the core city area. Work on close to 10 of these roads has already begun. The Smart Road work involves shifting of all cables, including electrical utility cables, telecom cables, digital TV cables and optical fibre cables, to underground ducts. Manholes are provided at 30 m intervals.
Ducting and manhole works as well as the surfacing of Manaveeyam Veedhi as well as the Charithra Veedhi in Fort are expected to be completed by the end of January. However, work on the culture street on Manaveeyam Veedhi, which involves the construction of a permanent stage and related electrical works, is likely to take six more months. Traffic will be allowed through this stretch once the surfacing is completed. The roadworks and cultural street works are being handled by different contractors.
Lack of experience
According to officials of Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Limited, there have been challenges for the contractors too, as not many are experienced in Smart Road works.
“Till now, there have been only a few Smart Road works with underground ducting taken up in the country. Even these are mostly small stretches serving as model roads, to be replicated on larger stretches in the future. We are one of the few cities to take up 45 km of Smart Road works within the city. Some of the work is complicated as we are not sure of the drainage and other networks which are passing underground. The narrow roads near residential areas, especially inside the Fort area as well as the Mathrubhumi Road, have proved to be challenging. The excavations have to be done carefully, as damage to existing networks can lead to us losing time in rectification work,” said an official.
The Smart Road project has been delayed due to a ban on excavations during rain, which meant that many days of work were lost during the incessant rain that hit the State in recent times. The limitations on the maximum number of workers allowed, as part of COVID-19 protocols, also contributed to delays.
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