Coimbatore Bypass is a two-lane bypass road, spanning a distance of 28 kms, which was built by L&T and was operational in the year 2000. This road helps a traveler to bypass the city of Coimbatore (officially known as Kovai) by connecting Neelambur on the Salem side and Madukkarai on the Palakkad side. I use this road for the same objective when I go home to Ernakulam.
I travelled on this road for the first time in the year 2002. At that time, I was working in the US and came down for executing a project in Chennai. During this time, we had hastily planned for a pilgrimage to Palani. After lobbying and subsequently gathering a small group consisting of immediate family and relatives, we hired a mini van for a comfortable journey. As soon as the mini van entered the bypass road, two of my younger cousins couldn’t contain the excitement and the virtues of the bypass road gushed out of their mouths. Having seen bigger things by that age, I wasn’t excited. For me, the road was small and it didn’t deserve to be praised to the sky. But, I was amused at their passion in which they were comparing notes.
Of late, I have been travelling to Kerala very frequently by road. Every time I travel on this road, I become less fond of this road for two reasons.
- Two-lane highway: Before reaching Kerala, this is the last stretch of road where we can make up the lost time. Once you cross over to Kerala, the road are busier and narrower. The bypass road being a two-lane highway, you end up playing hide and seek behind a slow moving vehicle in front of you before you can overtake it. Since this road is favored by the heavy vehicles, the ordeal of overtaking can be very frustrating as there are at least two heavy vehicles in front of you and the oncoming traffic never thins down.
- Toll booths: There are 6 toll booths on the bypass road. This is essential for the operators(toll collectors) as there are multiple entries and exits all along due to major roads cutting across the bypass road. In order to levy toll from everyone who uses this road, the toll booths are setup at 6 locations before these exit points and after these entry points. The flip side of this for someone who has to go directly from Salem to Palakkad or vice versa has to stop at all the 6 toll booths. You pay the toll and get the receipt from the first toll booth. Then, you stop at the each of the 5 remaining toll booths to display the receipt and get it examined by the guards.
It has been only 10 years since the bypass road has been operational and it is already outdated. What was the rationale while building the tollbooth? How long did the authorities think this will last? Were there only thinking of reducing the congestion inside the city instead of decreasing the time taken to travel? Are the authorities planning for a bypass widening project and flyovers across the roads that cut across the bypass road?
The widening of the bypass road will have a longer implementation cycle. But the authorities should try to eliminate the time wasted at the tollbooths. They can have two lanes – one for passing traffic and the other for collecting toll. In addition, they could also devise a way to easily identify the people who has already paid the toll. A color coded receipt will help. The colors will have to randomly change every day in order to avoid misuse and mischief. If the color coding does not work, the authorities can use token and automatically operated gates which opens on depositing the tokens. Using this method, you still have to stop. But it is more efficient way than a person squinting to check the receipt in dim light and adverse climatic conditions!
See below for the map of the bypass road and also the pictures of the toll booths.
View Larger Map