Flyovers: High-speed development or wasteful expenditure?

In 2008, the then Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi recalled an incident that had happened when he used to live in Chennai's Thyagaraya Nagar (T Nagar) decades ago. His son Stalin, then a young child, had swallowed a safety pin one day. The agonised parents — Karunanidhi and wife Dayalu Ammal — could not rush him to the doctor in nearby Kodambakkam as they had to wait at the railway gate for half an hour. The pin was finally removed and their son survived.

Karunanidhi was speaking at the inauguration of the Usman Road flyover in T Nagar. The message of his story was not lost on his listeners — the importance of a flyover that would ease congestion and save commuters the pain of remaining stuck in traffic snarls. And the flyover was built in a record time of 10 months.

More than a decade later, T Nagar residents can still relate to Karunanidhi's story and the pain of a safety pin. However, now it's the Usman Road flyover itself that feels like a pin lodged in the throat of commuters — something they can neither gulp down nor throw up.

  • Flyover nuggets
    • Kemps Corner at Pedder Road, Mumbai is India’s first flyover bridge built at a cost of around ₹17 lakh in 1965.
    • Anna flyover, built in 1973, was the first flyover in Chennai and the third in India.
    • The Hebbal flyover in Bengaluru, built by Gammon, is India's longest urban flyover, spanning 5.23 km.
    • Kathipara flyover in Chennai is the largest cloverleaf flyover in Asia.

Every day, VS Jayaraman, a resident of Motilal Street in T Nagar, navigates through a line of hawkers, tightly parked vehicles, and bikes and autorisckshaws squeezing their way onto the narrow service road underneath the flyover, to move towards Usman Road, even though it is just a few yards. “Ever since the flyover came up, residents on the many adjoining lanes have been left with little option but to put up with the congestion and amplified traffic,” he says.

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