Work to widen the eight bypasses of the Ulundurpet – Salem highway is under way in portions. Sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said work on the bypass at Ulundurpet was nearing completion. “The laying of dense bituminous macadam has been completed in the stretch of 2.57 km,” an official source explained.
The widening from two to four lanes running to a length of 38.39 km is being taken up at a cost of ₹260 crore and the work is likely to be completed in a year’s time. Filling of embankment is under way at the bypasses at Attur, Kallakurichi, Thyagadurgam, Valapady, Udayapatti and Elavansurkottai.
Work at the bypass at Chinnasalem running to a length of 4.60 km is yet to commence. “Our aim is to finish the work as soon as possible. We are aware of the traffic on the road,” said a senior official.
The road, an important one connecting Chennai and Salem, carries around 17,000 vehicles daily. A tourist driver Nandagopal, said that overtaking vehicles was a major problem on that road. “It is a national highway but one cannot speed even above 40 km/hr in many stretches and we pay toll fee for such poor service.
The High Court had taken up the cause of motorists on Chennai- Bengaluru Highway, but not this road. If the road is of two-lanes width, and you get stuck behind a heavy vehicle, you have no other option but to follow it. The NHAI has installed rubber dividers in such stretches and when motorists try and overtake, it is dangerous,” he said.
C. Dhanaraj, president, State Lorry Owners Federation, Tamil Nadu, said hundreds of trucks use the road on a daily basis. “It is very accident-prone. According to statistics available with us, over 2,600 accidents have happened on it in just one year and many of them were fatal. The reason for this is that the road width reduces suddenly from four to two lanes.
At such locations, accidents happen in the blink of the eye. The work is happening, but at a very slow pace. Political parties and various organisations have protested in the past wanting the work to be speeded up,” he added.