Proposed Skywalks across Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway: Who will climb 126 steps and come down?
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Proposed Skywalks across Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway: Who will climb 126 steps and come down?

September 4, 2023

By V.N. Prasad, Design Engineer and Project Management Consultant; Roads (Retd.)

At times I am amused, at times anguished and a lot times amazed at the unending reports of deficiencies and rectifications along the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway.

‘First things First’. Last weekend I drove up and down the Expressway. Vehicles were maintaining 100 km per hour and thereabouts. Most stuck to lanes and used indicators judiciously while changing lanes. All thanks to the fear of imposition of heavy fines.

Accidents seem to have come down and so have the eccentricities of drivers. A few two-wheelers were spotted too on the 3rd lane but needed to be stopped for their own safety. 

The sad aspect however is the absolute insensitivity/insensibility of heavy duty and/or ‘slow moving vehicles’. They stick to the 1st lane/kerb side, thereby compelling cars to switch lanes to circumvent them and switch back to  the 1st lane. 

Most were ‘Inter-State permit holders’ and would surely be aware of such fundamental rule that they should operate in 2nd and 3rd lanes. A loud and clear message needs to be sent to them to be disciplined.

Now, coming to the proposed skywalks. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officers and DPR Consultants have committed the fundamental mistake of providing ‘At Grade – Deceleration & Acceleration Lanes’ in all the exits and entrances; deficient in geometry.  That apart, the importance of providing scientific ‘exits and accesses’ through ramps is imminent to avoid human errors.

Tendency (in India) is to throw caution to the winds and cross the Expressway at ground levels. This is a ‘design brain’; put bluntly. As a result, all the exits and entrances look shabby and in utter state of confusion; very much inconsistent with the beauty such Expressways should carry. ‘Skywalks’ proposed now are believed to overcome dangerous pedestrian crossings.

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Now the interesting question is “How sure are we that these skywalks will be used?” At the proposed height of 63 feet (as per news item titled ‘24 Skywalks worth Rs. 46 crore planned along Expressway in Star of Mysore dated Aug. 28, 2023), 126 steps to climb up and 126 to come down. You need an army of personnel round the clock to ensure this discipline.

Net – Net, it is all due to ‘faulty fundamentals’ that result in poor end products. In my previous articles I had narrated the importance of “data collection” and deep involvement in interpretation of data by the designers. Lack of due diligence is the result of all such poor products.

Therefore, not only with respect to Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway, but also in general, major overhauling of the thoughts at the Ministry of Transport seems imminent.

I hasten to take the liberty of suggesting the following to the Government of India. I deem this a ‘sane approach’.

Please study the aims, objectives and charter of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Create an autonomous body with proven professionalism without nepotism/favouritism/interference.

Such a body shall essentially have a ‘training centre’ for orienting designers, material engineers and project management cells’; hard train them with professionalism to prepare the DPRs, prequalify tenderers, invite tenders, prepare appraisal reports, award tenders, appoint Project Management Consultants (PMCs) and hand over the completed project to the Ministry of Transport. The process shall ensure zero interference by/from the Government. 

Such an autonomous body may replace the NHAI which currently appears more mundane than professional. Unless this is carried out, we may rest assured that projects are conceived deficiently; sending up costs with variation orders ending up with unabated explanations and unabashed cost escalations.

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