The most awaited Nepal’s first 800-meter underpass between Khai Bazaar and Bafal Chowk along the Ring Road will release on June 29, according to project officials.
Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project (KRRIP) Project Manager Prakash Bhandari said, “Almost 98 percent work is complete. We have planned to open the underpass by June 29. This would be a boon to people using this route.”
Workers have completed asphalting of the 800-meter section of the road. Currently, drainage construction is in progress as well as plastering the wall. “Now we only need to give the finishing touches,” said Bhandari.
The pending tasks include painting the wall, installing traffic signboards and making the road smooth.
Kalanki traffic police officers say vehicular load has steadily come down because the service lanes have already opened.
“Once the underpass starts, we would also get relief,” said Laxman Pandey, a traffic police constable, assigned duty at Kalanki junction.
Kalanki is notorious for traffic snarls. Every day, around 25 traffic police officers monitor and control vehicles in the area according to Kalanki Traffic Police Range.
“We would have to deploy half the number of officers once the underpass opens,” one officer said.
Not just the commuters who use Kalanki road regularly are desperately waiting for Nepal’s first underpass to open soon; many the traffic police personnel are also equally keen.
“I guess, our health would improve because we would be spared the dust and grime that we face there. Many times my wife would say, ‘Your face is covered with so much dust, it is difficult to recognise you!’ This new infrastructure will surely reduce the dust pollution in the area,” said Pandey.
The four-lane underpass in Kalanki is the part of 10.5km Kalanki-Koteshwor stretch along the Ring Road built on the China’s grant of Rs 5.13 billion.
Once the underpass opens, vehicles coming from Nagdhaunga and Kalanki will not suffer traffic jams. Vehicles using the Ring Road would have uninterrupted passage through the underpass. Separate service lanes in both directions on the upper deck of the underpass would ensure smooth flow of vehicles accessing local residential areas.
Kalanki is the man transit route for the entry of the Kathmandu valley. According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, every day around 70,000 people travel in over 8,000 public and private vehicles. Traffic jams that often lasted up to two hours made life miserable for citizens.
“Traffic jams at Kalanki would stress me Every time I left for my village in Lamjung. My ordeal will end once the underpass opens. The Kalanki section, that was an ugly mess, has changed into a wide and beautiful area,” said Sita Debi Bhusal, resident of Bafal Chowk.
Deputy Superintendent at the MTPD Mukunda Marasaini said the opening of the underpass would help to control the traffic jams at other junctions in Balkhu, Kalanki, Sitapaila, New Bus Park, Kalamati, Tripureshwor and Ratnapark areas.
“This subway would be a great relief for the residents of Kathmandu as a majority uses this route,” he said.
The subway project work started in 2013. The earthquake on April 25, 2015 slowed its progress. This was followed by the shortage of construction materials following India’s trade blockade that caused fuel crises in Nepal.