Pedestrian skywalk project inches forward

Southern Railway finally gives its nod for Rs. 65 crore Poonamallee High Road project

The 1.6 km-long pedestrian skywalk proposed on Poonamallee High Road has overcome one more hurdle — the Southern Railway has given its nod for the project.

The 5.5 m-high facility, which will allow pedestrians to walk without any hassles from Park Station to the Madras Medical College, had been waiting for this clearance for quite some time.

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Sources in the State Highways Department said that while granting permission, the railways also suggested that Park Station (on the Beach – Tambaram line) and Park Town Station (on the MRTS line) be connected to the skywalk as it would facilitate free movement of passengers.

However, the railways will not be sharing the cost of construction, which rough estimates show, could be around Rs. 65 crore.

The skywalk would permit pedestrians to get on and off at any of the 13 points including Chennai Central, Moore Market Complex, Madras Medical College, Southern Railway head quarters and Government General Hospital. Ramps, staircases, escalators and elevators would be modes on which pedestrians can get on and off.

Sources said that the pedestrian volume on this stretch is almost on par with the number of vehicles that use it.

It has been estimated that nearly 12,500 persons cross the road in an hour during peak time near Central Station, which is almost equal to the number of vehicles — 13,000 per hour — that take the road during rush hours.

“In such a situation, a skywalk would be of utmost use to pedestrians as well as traffic. Now, people run across the road and jump over the median, which causes a lot of trouble for motorists. But care must be taken to ensure that the escalators are maintained properly so that pedestrians use it,” said a traffic planner.

Space for hawkers

The Highways Department plans to create space for hawkers too on the skywalk. “The width will vary from 7 m to 4 m. The presence of hawkers will ensure that pedestrians have another reason to climb up,” said a source.

Renuka Gopalan, a resident of Mudichur, who takes local trains to commute to the city, said that such a facility would be a welcome one. I can take the MRTS or go to Central station easily while doing a bit of shopping,” she said.