Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Construction of outer ring road in Kathmandu Valley

Posted by Anup Baral | November 30, 2016 :

The outer ring road for the Kathmandu valley is back in the news. I first thought it to be an April fool’s joke but it was not. The plan for outer ring road did its rounds a decade ago but then ran aground due to litigation issues related to land acquisition. The rational for building this road is probably even more ambiguous and questionable today than it was then. The justification for building the outer ring road and determining its alignment did not come from a traffic planning exercise. The explanation was given at the time that the concept was to broaden the service road for Melamchi water supply pipeline. This project in itself shows the government’s prioritisation for the mega infrastructure projects, ignoring the need to deal with the complexity of subtle improvements and details. The project has now come under the Ministry of Urban Development and I have been told that it is the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority that has taken responsibility for this grand endeavour. The press release states that the eight-lane, 72 kilometre long highway would encircle the valley ‘in a bid to ease the pressure of vehicular traffic in the valley’. Till today I have not seen any studies on the present status of traffic in the valley — how traffic will develop in the future and any strategic plan on how traffic will be guided. We first need to understand what kind of traffic we have and how the traffic flows. The road widening that was carried out before the earthquake sliced buildings along the main roads preparing us for the images of destruction caused by the earthquake. The wide roads have attracted more traffic, which gets stuck in long queues at the next road crossing.

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