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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Panaji to Margao: Take a hard ride

Major traffic diversion planned at Zuari Bridge; plans to close a 3.5-km stretch of highway between the Cortalim Circle and Sharayu Toyota showroom

Story: VIKRAM | NAYAK | 07th December 2018, 03:44 Hrs

DIVERSION PLAN
Panaji -- Cortalim Junction -- Chicalim Junction -- Airport Junction -- Verna Junction -- Margao
ADDED DISTANCE:  18 kms

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VASCO: In a major traffic diversion plan which is bound to seriously affect thousands of vehicles plying daily between Panaji and Margao via Cortalim for as long as a year, authorities are reportedly finalising plans to close a 3.5-km stretch of highway between the Cortalim Circle and Sharayu Toyota showroom.

What's worse, the traffic diversion plan would require vehicles plying between Panaji and Margao to take a 18-km long detour via Chicalim Junction, Airport Junction and Verna Junction, thereby causing huge delays and hardships to motorists.

THE MEETING

If officials in the traffic department are to be believed, plans to divert the Panaji-Margao traffic via Chicalim at the Cortalim Circle took shape after the contractors placed the traffic diversion proposal before a recent meeting attended by senior administrative officials.

“The contractors had suggested that the stretch of the road between the Cortalim Circle and Sharayu Toyota showroom be closed for traffic for a period of one year. This closure was to enable the girders to be placed on pillars erected along the stretch of road to complete the 26-metre wide six-lane new Zuari Bridge project,” said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Though the plans were to be finalized and implemented immediately, some departments wanted the traffic diversion plan to be implemented after the New Year, to avoid traffic chaos and huge traffic jams due to a surge in vehicles during this period,” the official said.

THE DIVERSION

Stating that the proposal is likely to be finalized soon, the official said that the traffic diversion would be implemented for vehicles plying between Panaji and Margao via the Cortalim Circle.

“Traffic will be diverted from Cortalim Circle and vehicles will have to proceed to Chicalim Junction and then towards the Airport Junction, before turning towards Verna via the NH17B highway. This detour would be an additional 18 kms.”

“Since the bridge flyover has to be completed, there is no alternative and the stretch of the road between Cortalim Circle and Sharayu Toyota showroom will be full of cranes and heavy machinery lifting the girders and cement slabs to complete the six-lane bridge,” said the official.

"Since cement slabs are heavy and cranes will be engaged to fix the slabs over the erected pillars along the stretch between Cortalim Circle and Verna, we cannot allow traffic movement as it could be dangerous and risky.”

"The contractors have demanded a period of one year to mount the slabs on the pillars till the bridge landing near Sharayu Toyota showroom. We have asked for additional staff, but we cannot monitor every cross road between the NH17A highway,” said the official.

THE OPTIONS

While admitting that motorists and vehicles from Vasco are unlikely to face much trouble on account of the detour, the official said motorists and commuters travelling between Panaji and Margao may have to use this 18-km long detour for almost a year.

“There are internal roads between Cortalim junction and Quelossim via Rasaim moving upwards towards Verna, while there is also an internal road between Cortalim and Verna via Sancoale. But these roads are narrow and are simply unable to cater to the huge highway traffic.”

“We cannot even allow vehicles to move towards Verna from the Thana cross, because there will be huge cranes all along the road and this will create a further traffic chaos.”

“There are some other internal roads between Cortalim Circle and Chicalim junction, like the road near Shantadurga Temple, but these roads are too narrow that locals and the panchayat will definitely have objections.”

“The roads are so narrow at certain places, that two vehicles cannot pass each other and as such, vehicles attempting shortcuts could cause further chaos and cause traffic jams and in the end, vehicles could get stuck for hours,” said the official.

The official said attempts were made to seek an additional lane between Cortalim Circle and Sharayu Toyota showroom, but it was ruled out as there is no land available.

“As such, there is no real and effective traffic alternative to the long traffic diversion plan,” admitted the official.