This is a common sight at Clock Tower
Approximately 500m long and 20 ft wide – this is Dehradun’s Bottle Neck, the starting part of Chakrata Road from Clock Tower, which is the single biggest cause of traffic jams in Dehradun. For a long time now, authorities have grappled with the problem and like the proverbial Gordian Knot it is still waiting for Alexander & his sword. Shops opening literally on the street prevent any widening of the Road and while it is easy to ask for their demolition, the human angle cannot be overlooked. Families doing business over decades cannot be displaced at the stroke of a pen. Is there a way out?
Sitting right in the center of Doon, the Clock Tower marks the junction of three main arterial roads – Chakrata Road, Gandhi Road and Rajpur Road and is the only place in Dehradun with a perpetual traffic jam. In its wisdom the Municipal Committee of Dehradun plans to divert the traffic on Rajpur Road to the roads around Parade Ground in order to ease the congestion around Clock Tower. Hundreds of trees are to be cut and lakhs of taxpayer’s money is to be spent on this project. But will it work?
The Situation:From Clock Tower the first 100 mts of Chakrata Road are the narrowest, approaching 18ft. The left border literally balloons into the road and has four shops and two paan stalls. The rest of the bottle neck is around 20ft wide and has about 130 shops. Beyond the bottle neck, the road is a comfortable 30ft wide. While the Rajpur Road is about 80ft wide, the Gandhi Road is 50ft wide.
It is interesting to analyze the flow of traffic around the Clock Tower. In absence of any traffic flow studies, observing the movement of four wheelers can give informative. Coming from Rajpur Road towards Clock Tower, 58% of vehicles went on Gandhi Road while 42% turned into Chakrata Road. In contrast 64% of vehicles on Gandhi Road, coming from Darshan Lal Chowk, moved into Chakrata Road, while only 36% went onto the Rajpur Road. Traffic from Chakrata Road was evenly split with 52% going on to Gandhi Road and 48% to Rajpur Road. Therefore on average, about 56% of vehicles around the Clock Tower move into the Bottle neck while the rest are equally divided among the other two roads.
The incoming traffic volume in Chakrata Road at the time of survey was 17 Cars / min which was twice the volume in Gandhi Road (8 Cars / min) and Rajpur Road (7 Cars / min). While the absolute numbers will change with the time of day, the ratio of 2:1 is unlikely to change.
These figures explain why there are traffic jams occasionally up to Capri Trade Center on Chakrata Road (as the volume of traffic going towards Clock Tower is very high), traffic jams on the Gandhi Road going into Chakrata Road (not as much as on the Chakrata Road but significant, as 64% of traffic on this Road goes to the Bottle Neck), while the other side, Rajpur Road leading to Gandhi Road is always free, occasionally one sees a line of vehicles here when the Darshan Lal Chowk is blocked due to processions etc.
Therefore the only way to reduce congestion around the Clock Tower is to relieve the obstruction on Chakrata Road. Diverting traffic on Rajpur Road heading towards Railway Station along the Gandhi Road through Parade Ground, as planned by the Dehradun Municipality, will have literally no impact on congestion at Clock Tower, as this traffic accounts for a meagre 30% of the traffic around the Clock Tower and uses the Northern & Eastern segments of the turnabout which has minimal load. The Western & Southern segments are the ones with heavy load and traffic jams.
The solution:The only solution to reduce congestion around the Clock Tower is to remove the entire Bottle Neck, for which a comprehensive resettlement plan must be worked out with the traders involved. But a substantial amount of relief can be achieved if just the initial 100 meters are widened. Since it involves only 4 shops it should not be difficult. A way out could be to build a shopping complex in the current scooter parking at the Clock Tower into which these shops can be shifted, with scooter parking in the first and second floors.
The perpetual traffic congestion at Clock Tower results in wastage of fuel and time of a majority of Doonites, besides increasing the atmospheric pollution due to idling of vehicles and must be tackled headlong. The current MDC plans seem to be based on faulty logic and will only waste public money without achieving anything significant. Instead of working on instincts and visual impressions, help of town planners must be sought and detailed scientific road traffic analysis carried out to identify the cause of this problem, which will then lead to a correct plan of action.
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