A 240-ft subway equipped with two-way escalators, which go down as well as up, has come up at the Rabindra Tirtha crossing below Kolkata Gate in New Town to help pedestrians safely cross the six-lane Major Arterial Road (MAR).
The subway is part of a pedestrian subway complex that will open on all four sides of the intersection.
On Friday, the section connecting Rabindra Tirtha and Smart Plaza, on the other side of the MAR, was inaugurated by Hidco chairman Firhad Hakim and managing director Debashis Sen.
This is the first pedestrian subway in the city that is equipped with escalators that will let pedestrians go down as well as get up to the street level.
One subway in New Town, near Eco Park, is equipped with an escalator that only goes up. Pedestrians have to walk down.
The decision to build four subways at the crossing was taken following a survey on vehicle and pedestrian density that was conducted by the Bidhannagar commissionerate’s traffic department and Hidco.
“Hundreds of men and women working in IT offices cross the road near Kolkata Gate on their way to work or back,” a traffic police officer said.
Pedestrians had to cross the road dodging speeding vehicles, putting their lives at risk, the officer said
On Friday, too, before the flyover was thrown open, Metro spotted many people darting across the road as vehicles whizzed past them.
The subway complex once complete will have four entry/exit points that open up in four directions.
It is quite challenging for pedestrians to cross the MAR, which is 59m-wide and has six lanes with a wide divider, the traffic police officer said.
The road leads to Unitech, one of the busiest office areas in New Town, and the airport and it sees a huge volume of traffic at all times — both on the airport-bound and the Salt Lake-bound flank.
“Although we have a signalling system in place and have deliberately kept the signal cycle long to help pedestrians cross the road, people often try to walk or run across the road while vehicles speed past. Now that the subway on one section is open, we will tweak the timings on the two corresponding flanks,” the officer said.
The subway has been built at a depth of around 7m. The decision to install two-way escalators was taken based on feedback from residents and keeping in mind the difficulty elderly people and others with mobility problems face while climbing up or down a flight of stairs, a Hidco official said.
The township now has 10 subways, eight at the Akanksha crossing and one each near Nazrul Tirtha and in front of Gate No. 2 of Eco Park.
“This is the first time that we have installed two-way escalators in a subway in the township,” said Hidco managing director Sen.
The inside of the 240ft-long underground passage looks vibrant thanks to murals covering the wall up to a height of 8 feet. The murals portray Kolkata Gate, Coffee House, Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, Goddess Durga, Belur Math and Dakshineswar.