Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A layered Transport Model

Traffic seems to be growing in the country, especially in the capital and suburbs. Increasing number of vehicles and roads that are unable to accommodate them are the main reasons. The inevitable factor of undisciplined drivers & pedestrians does exist too. But the lack of infrastructure stands out. There ought to be short-term and long-term policy brainstorming being performed somewhere out there, but with unseen results. So, I have visualised a transport model, if anyone's interested in taking my 'five cents'.

The best way is to study how some countries have successfully curbed traffic congestion. Once, I met a person who worked in Italy, and he was telling me that they had planned their cities a long time ago as a 'layered' plan. I don't know whether this is correct as a fact, but some evidence can be seen. What I propose is something on the same lines, because widening existing roads or building new ones aren't always feasible, given that we are a developing nation and rely highly on foreign monetary assistance. Not to mention the scarcity of available lands. Well, we do need financial assistance, but whatever infrastructure built needs to be sustainable or else we'll end up in a similar situation a few years down the line.

When the Dutch built a canal system in Colombo, it couldn't have been a part of a long-term plan, but may be because they thought of it as the most viable transportation system suitable for the geography of the area. After all this was an era with no fuel-driven vehicles. In my plan I propose these existing waterways be utilised for transport. A project was kicked-off two years ago, but hasn't lasted long. I think the publicity and popularity it received was not enough, for otherwise the system was a very low-cost transportation method. Mind you, safety and health matters need to be taken care of too. But these type of waterways are utilised immensely in developed countries.

The other issues are with roads and railroads. I propose a merge. How? There are two ways: subways under the existing roads or elevated railway lines over the existing roads. This provides for maximum utilisation of land and infrastructure since what we are talking is a 'vertical' approach as opposed to the orthodox 'horizontal' approach.

 A subway

 An overhead (elevated) railway

This of course has been implemented in many countries as seen in the pictures above. If all three layers (subway, highway, overhead) could be implemented in one alignment that would be an ultimate solution. I even propose that overhead railways or roads be built over existing waterways, thereby making use of them both. If the costs involved are deemed to be high, still it is much sustainable than our current solutions. My point is a layered approach and not necessarily everything what I've highlighted here. But if any decision-maker is willing to extract something of this that seems to be practical and feasible, be my guest.

The model - illustrated