THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government has accepted a proposal of national highway development in that capital that will obviate the demolition of the controversial 430-metre Chakkai ramp constructed a decade ago to take vehicles to the international terminal of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport from the Chakkai-Enchakkal National Highway stretch. The proposal submitted by NATPAC founder and the country’s foremost transportation expert Dr N.S. Srinivasan instead suggests the construction of an 8.5-metre flyover in between the ramp and the existing highway. Under this plan, vehicles moving from Enchakkal to Chakkai will take the flyover, and those coming in the opposite direction will take the existing highway.
Vehicles moving to the airport from Enchakkal can take the ramp, as is now being done. Those coming from Chakkai and wanting to move to the airport will have to take a U-turn under the flyover and enter the ramp from the Enchakkal side and proceed towards the airport. For vehicles moving out of the airport towards Chakkai, they just have to come down the ramp and turn left towards Chakkai, same as now. Those wanting to move to Enchakkal from the airport will have to turn left towards Chakkai, exit the ramp, take a U-turn under the flyover and then proceed to Enchakkal.
Dr Srinivasan had submitted two other proposals. One of them, called the ‘roundabout proposal’, not only rules out demolition of the ramp but also recommends the construction of two ramps on either side of the existing highway with a roundabout right at the centre, over the existing highway. There will be service roads on either side, too. Vehicles moving to the airport from either side can take one of the ramps, with the highway down below left free for normal traffic. Though the proposal was seen as impressive, it was considered too costly. And the huge construction involved would have led to traffic disruption for more than a year.
The third option involved the razing of the ramp, and the construction of a flyover towards Chakkai. Vehicles to Chakkai from Enchakkal will have to take the flyover, those coming from Chakkai will use the existing highway. However, those wanting to move to the airport from the Enchakkal side will have to take the existing service road, far to the left. Vehicles coming from the Chakkai side will have to turn right under the flyover, wait at a signal, and move towards the airport along the approach road.
This proposal had certain disadvantages. One, the service road was too clogged. Two, there were long traffic delays along the highway where vehicles turned right towards the airport. Three, with the ramp gone, the approach road would be uncomfortably steep. Four, like the ‘roundabout’ alternative, the demolition of the ramp and construction of the flyover would have held up traffic for at least a year.