|There is some good news for vehicle users taking the Inner Ring Road connecting Uthangudi with Kappalur, a vital link between southern and northern districts - the narrow road, notorious for its numerous potholes, is getting widened at last.|
Tamil Nadu Road Infrastructure Development Corporation has begun work on making it a four-lane highway. The narrow road, laid in the late 1990s on the fringes of Madurai, was aimed at decongesting city roads. However, after four-laning of highways from southern districts to Chennai and Bengaluru, the 27.2-km-long Ring Road remained a bottleneck as the cash-strapped Madurai Corporation did not allow National Highways Authority of India to take over the road for four-laning. The toll collection was a major source of income for the civic body.
However, after the High Court banned the Corporation from collecting toll, it came forward to widen it. The State government awarded the work to the State Highways that eventually rendered the narrow stretch in a mess with huge and innumerable potholes for several months as the Corporation stopped maintaining it thereafter.
“Two-wheeler riders are the worst affected due to the potholes and rash driving of heavy vehicles. In their attempt to overtake other vehicles, drivers of heavy vehicles often force us (coming in the opposite direction) to the unpaved shoulders which are also in a worse condition,” said M. Muthukumar (22), a carpenter from Yagappa Nagar.
His friend, P.N. Surya (19), said the potholes and patch work made the road bumpy and two-wheelers often wobbled on the narrow road margin. “It becomes very dangerous to closely follow any car, as potholes take us by surprise and make us lose control of the vehicle,” he said.
A lorry driver from Tiruchi, M. Sundaram (21), said he had not seen any other road in such a poor condition. “It takes us at least an hour to cross this stretch. Overtaking is not possible due to the heavy traffic on the narrow road,” he said.
Lorries also lose a lot of diesel due to frequent changing of gears. The potholes cause quicker wear and tear of tyres.
Despite the Ring Road being the main link to all major highways from Madurai airport and frequented by VIPs, the condition of the road has not improved much.
“The new road will be on a par with four-lane highways of the NHAI on many aspects,” said a source in State Highways. Besides widening the road, the department would put up a median to prevent head-on collision.