Times Square experiment at CSMT junction begins

Mumbai: 23 Oct, 2019 (Times of India)

A year after the BMC announced a transformation of the CSMT junction to make it more pedestrianfriendly, on the lines of Times Square in New York, the project finally kicked off on Tuesday. The transformation, to be implemented in collaboration with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), is interim in nature and should be completed by the weekend.

The BMC and the traffic police will take into account perspectives from all road users and will consider making the redesign a permanent feature, with any enhancements if required.

The project involves extending kerbs to shorten zebra crossings, effectively lowering exposure to traffic while crossing over, adding refuge islands, establishishing dedicated parking spots, and adding benches, planters and pavers to make footpaths more accessible to pedestrians. This will be done while aligning travel lanes to make traffic systematic. All materials used in the transformation are temporary and moveable, and can be adjusted over the course of the project.

“On Tuesday, we started with markings on site and laying out the geometry. At night, we will start working with paints. The BMC will provide kerbstones and we will have benches and planters coming in,” said Abhimanyu Prakash, senior programme manager, National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), New York, a BIGRS partner.

Signs about the project were put up at the junction and Prakash said a group of 30 volunteers had been hired to educate on-foot regulars about the project. Pedestrians will be asked on what parts of the road they feel unsafe and what design interventions they would prefer.

In 2009-10, traffic lanes along Broadway in New York were closed to cars and transformed into pedestrian plazas. As a result, traffic-related injuries decreased and the number of on-foot visitors to Times Square spiked.

Janette Sadik-Khan, former New York transportation commissioner who is now with Bloomberg Associates, had spoken of a Times-Square-like transformation for the junction in the presence of BMC officers in November.

The colours for the project were decided upon after discussions with conservation architects to be in sync with the heritage significance of the CSMT building. Under BIGRS, on-site studies of pedestrian and vehicular movement were done along with data collection to find out how the design would impact traffic. NACTO designers said they would not be taking away any traffic lanes.

Earlier, pedestrian friendly transformations were done under BIGRS at HP junction in Bandra, the junction next to the Wadala police station, Bharatmata junction, Nagpada junction and Ambaji Dham junction in Mulund.