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Pedestrian-only streets, better public transport, new roads

  • Published in Infrastructure

The master plan takes an aggressive approach when it comes to improving mobility through the traffic-clogged streets of Panaji.

"Every year, 8% more vehicles are added to the city's streets. The existing number of vehicles will double in the next 5-6 years, and the existing road infrastructure will not be able to accommodate the burden," explains Mikel Oteiza, senior engineer with LKS India Pvt Ltd, the consultant company that has drafted the plan. "We aim to reduce the number of cars used in Panaji, and also construct new four-lane roads to divert traffic outside the city," he says.

A few of the busiest roads in the city, the commercial lifeline of 18{+t}{+h} June road, and the intersecting Swami Vivekananda and Governor Pestana roads should be made pedestrian-only areas, the plan suggests. Leave your cars and motorbikes at home, and take the bus, it urges.

Strengthening public transport is top priority-the plan proposes a modern minibus service with very cheap fares, cross-financed by heavy on-street parking fares-another tactic to discourage the influx of private vehicles into the city.

The seven different bus routes spanning Panaji, Bambolim, Taleigao and St Cruz will have bus stops every 150m, with a frequency of a bus every 10-12 minutes, the plan promises.

If you travel to Panaji for work every day, you may have to park your vehicles outside the city-perhaps at the free parking area proposed at the Mandovi river's north bank, from where a shuttle service will ensure that you reach work in time.

Alternatively, you could hop on to one of the passenger-only ferryboats, plying from the new ferry points at the north bank of the Mandovi, Betim and Reis Magos, to ramps on the riverfront in Panaji. Once you reach the city, you could either walk to your destination via the no-motor zones or hire a bicycle and pedal down the dedicated cycling lanes that will be built into all arterial roads.

After analyzing the existing traffic flow, the planners have also proposed a re-jig of the flow of vehicles through the four main entrances into Panaji by creating a new network of roads. A new elevated-expressway (NH 17) has been proposed between the two existing bridges, so that high-speed traffic heading South can bypass Panaji.

Similar measures would be taken to improve the southern access to Panaji by constructing a four-lane highway from Bambolim to Panaji via Dona Paula. The new road will bypass Goa University, to reduce vehicular traffic within the campus.

"The GMC junction is highly accident-prone-one pedestrian is killed there every month. The area is set to become even more congested with the new integrated school complex and the Lusofonia Games stadium under construction in Bambolim," says Oteiza, whose plan proposes a 500m-tunnel for highway traffic at the junction.

Another new four-lane road will form the 'central spine' of the city, connecting Ourem bridge to the Goa University bypass road, cutting through fields and unoccupied land in Taleigao.

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