Highways charts out route for vital OMR-ECR road link in Chennai

The highways department has finalised the alignment of the new link road between East Coast Road (ECR) and Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). The final decision was made by a steering committee with top officials from the highways, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), Chennai Corporation and police.

The new road will begin at Neelankarai on ECR, cross Buckingham Canal and join OMR opposite the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Road junction.

Though the alignment was part of the Chennai Metropolitan Transport Authority’s master plan in 2008, a private consultant was appointed to study the feasibility of the project. The consultant carried out traffic studies and found that there is an urgent need for a road at this junction.

There are no roads connecting OMR and ECR apart from Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road in Sholinganallur and West Avenue Road in Thiruvanmiyur. These two roads are 10km apart.

“Earlier there was a small bridge that we used to cross the canal. But it was closed a few months ago. Now we have to go all the way to Sholinganallur and then come back,” said V Srinivasan, a bank manager who lives in Thoraipakkam. “Not only is this a 10km detour but it takes half an hour just to cross the Sholinganallur signal.”

Unchecked real estate growth has been rampant in this area and may delay land acquisition process, say officials. At least 100 houses built illegally have to be demolished. Of the two options available — to go by the master plan or chart a new course through vacant land — the government has chosen the tougher one. This will give them legal leeway when it comes to land acquisition.

The highways department estimates land acquisition to cost around 100 crore for an estimated 42,000sqm that it will have to acquire. Around 30,000sqm of this land is owned by private individuals with legal deeds.

“Though most land owners have pattas, buildings on the eastern side of the canal do not have approval,” a highways official said. “People constructed buildings in violation of the master plan.”

The western side of the canal is mostly vacant and should the highways department should not have any problems with land acquisition along the stretch.

“Once the plots are identified, land acquisition will begin. Unlike earlier projects, construction will begin only when land acquisition is completed,” the official said. Officials expect the land acquisition process to last at least two years and say laying the road will take a year to complete.



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