KOCHI: There was no place for regrets for the man who was part of the construction of the North railway overbridge (ROB) way back in 1961.
For Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's ( DMRC) principal advisor E Sreedharan, who oversaw the construction of the portion of the ROB above the rail tracks as an engineer of the Indian railways, the demolition was just process. "It was almost 52 years ago. The bridge is neither an architectural marvel nor does it have good road geometry. I have no regrets in demolishing it," he said. "Though the portion above the railway lines are in good shape, the approach roads to the ROB is not so and reinforcements are exposed," he said.
Many old timers like Rangadasa Prabhu, the president of Ernakulam District Residents Association Apex Council (EDRAAC), have memories of those days when the bridge was first opened for public. Prabhu was all smiles as he hummed the line "paalam, paalam, kadinam paalam" (the bridge is tiresome to climb) sung by rickshaw pullers while negotiating the steep climb over the North ROB.
"Except for a few buses and cars, there were hardly any motor vehicles in the city in those days. Rickshawalas used the railway gate on the ESI road and the steep climb and descent were a physically daunting task for them," he said.
Echoing similar sentiments, N C Kurup, an old timer who owns a shop near the ROB, pointed out that the curve on the bridge were the result of certain changes made in the alignment in order to protect the interests of a lodge owner. "Though there were disagreements over changes, it did not boil down to a controversy," he said.
Driving school instructors also found the steep bridge ideal to give driving lessons. "The North ROB is a trap for drivers, especially the less-experienced ones," says Babu Varghese, who runs a driving school. It requires presence of mind, training and practice to keep pace in long queues of vehicles on the ROB.
Learners usually end up with stalled engines during their first attempt, inviting the wrath of other drivers. "Honking and yelling by other drivers ensured that they learned the ropes quickly," said Jessy, a driving school instructor.
Though there was always a demand for a wider bridge, the state government decided to pull down the bridge only when Kochi Metro received the go ahead. "A wider bridge will facilitate travel and bring more business to the city," said Kurup.
Source - Times of India