The Tamil Nadu highways department has finally started construction of the much-awaited road linking Old Mahabalipuram Road and East Coast Road at Thoraipakkam junction. The project with an estimated cost of ₹204 crore was sanctioned in 2014.
The 1.45-km stretch is aimed at reducing traffic congestion along the IT corridor. It will connect Neelankarai directly with Thoraipakkam.
Existing link roads are at least 10km apart. Vehicles travelling along OMR primarily use Lattice Bridge Road to reach ECR via Thiruvanmiyur. Since this is a narrow stretch, traffic snarls are inevitable, particularly during peak hours. The other option is at Sholinganallur junction. Interior roads don’t support twoway vehicular traffic. However, bikers use them to avoid traffic jams along the main roads. This led to frequent roadblocks even in residential areas along these interior roads.
So, ECR-bound vehicles, particularly four-wheelers, are forced to take a detour along OMR, wait for longer hours at traffic signals in Thoraipakkam and Sholinganallur junctions to move towards ECR. More importantly, motorists must pay a toll at the existing link road near Sholinganallur. Each car has to pay ₹30 for crossing the toll, which is maintained by IT Expressway Limited. On average, 30,000 vehicles cross this toll every day. It was over a lakh during pre-Covid times.
The new link-road, adjacent to Okkiyam-Thoraipakkam Panchayat Union School, is equidistant between Sholinganallur and Thiruvanmiyur. “We have taken up construction works in two phases,” said a highways department official. Work is ongoing at the 760m-stretch from Thoraipakkam to Buckingham Canal now. In the second phase, a road on the other side of the canal near Neelankarai and a bridge (over the canal) will be constructed. At Thoraipakkam junction, Tamil Nadu Road Development Corporation has proposed to construct a rotary-type flyover. One arm of this flyover will connect the new link road with Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road. This allows vehicles to travel between Neelankarai and Airport (via Radial Road and GST Road) in less than 30-45 minutes, the official added.
G Satish, a resident-activist from OMR, said the new link road project will improve traffic conditions. “We have been requesting for a similar link road between Sholinganallur and Kelambakkam along OMR. We hope the government sanctions funds for that too,” he said.