Kaliamman Koil Street Widening Project Still in Limbo

The recent construction of a median on Kaliamman Koil Street in Virugambakkam, has evoked mixed reactions from the public.

Welcoming the move, Kanakarajan, a fruit vendor along the Natesa Nagar stretch of the road said, “Speeding vehicles are forced to slow down now. Pedestrians can cross the road easily.”

“Car accidents have significantly come down,” said Lingesan, who runs a store in Sai Nagar. He added, “That is why the center median was built. There used to be quite a few accidents before.”

Manivannan, Head Constable at VirugambakkamPolice Station who is part of the Natesa Nagar evening police patrol agreed, “There is less blockage on this road, now.”

Ananyaa Desikan, a resident of Ilango Nagar disagreed, “It is illogical to have a divider on an already narrow road. Earlier, when I was on my bike, I could maneuver through the traffic — there used to be space. Now, if there is a bus on one side of the road, everybody has to wait for it to pass. The whole road gets completely blocked.”

Pandian who works at a popular bakery joint in Chinmaya Nagaralso felt that there was‘no big improvement since the median was built.’ He said, “Accidents involving death has reduced, but accidents still occur.”

“Unless the road is widened, what purpose will the median serve?” he asked.
KaliammanKoil Street is an arterial road between Arcot Road and 100 Feet Road, connecting Koyambedu, Virugambakkam, Porur, Vadapalani and KK Nagar.

According to a report in the Hindu dated June 29, 2013, the Chennai Corporation had passed a resolution in December 2012 to widen Kaliamman Koil Street (one out of 24 busy roads selected for widening) and acquire 37,600 sq. m. of private land on either side of Kaliamman Koil Street for the road-widening project.

Ganesh and others who have been using the road for years do not see the median as an indication that road-extension is on its way. He said, “25 years I have been here — nothing. Just talk.” “Politicians don’t seem to want to get it done,” Thygaraja, a Chinmaya Nagar resident, said.

T. Purushottaman who owns a shop along Natesa Nagar asked, “If they were planning to widen the road, why would they suddenly build a median? Won’t they have to demolish it once the project begins?” He added, “The markings keep getting drawn near our shops — but we haven’t received any notice yet.”

Towards Ilango Nagar, the road gets narrower — as a result, there is no median on this stretch of Kaliamman Koil Street. Adding to the problem is an electric box with tangled wires lying exposed on this narrow stretch. Palani who has been travelling on this road for 40 years said, “The situation hasn’t improved one bit. Pedestrians have to be wary always.”

Other encroachments like makeshift advertisement boards and parked vehicles continue to remain along the road. A traffic policeman is a rare sight, unless there is a traffic block on Arcot Road for more than an hour, claimed residents.

Palani and other residents demanded, “We need a platform on either side of the road. Space has to be allocated in the project.” “What is a footpath?” asked Palani, referring to the fact that there has never been a footpath along most parts of Kaliamman Koil Street.

With work on the Jawaharlal Nehru Salai Flyover in front of the Central Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) commencing last month, residents hope that an arm of the J.N. Salai will be built on Kaliamman Koil Street soon and reduce vehicular congestion.