The two U-turns at Uttara have created the ground for rethinking of the traffic infrastructure in Dhaka
Based on the success of two U-turns that have recently been introduced to Dhaka's Uttara, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) is now set to build nine more U-turns on major roads of the city.
Uttara U-turns significantly improved traffic management – in fact some of the locals feel that they worked like magic.
But the DNCC, as the project map shows, is preparing to replicate the design of the Uttara U-turns at all of the nine points, stretching from Kawla to Satrasta Intersection.
Experts and traffic police say that the Uttara-style U-turns, taking up 50 feet of area each, would not work for Kakoli and Satrasta intersections because these points do not have adequate space.
Another U-turn, in front of the Cantonment Railway Station, would be totally unnecessary, they observe.
In 2016, DNCC had planned a project of U-turn at 11 points on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Avenue.
The two U-turns at Uttara have created the ground for rethinking of the traffic infrastructure in Dhaka. One of them is in front of Rajlakshmi Shopping Complex near Jashimuddininter section and other is near Rapid Action Battalion-1 office to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport intersection.
The proposed nine other U-turn points are in Kawla adjacent to Flying Academy, Army Golf Club, beneath the Banani rail crossing underpass, Banani rail station (Kakali), Chairmanbari, Amtali under Mohakhali flyover, Mohakhali Inter-district Bus Terminal, Kohinoor Chemicals Company and Satrasta intersection under Mogh Bazaar Flyover.
U-turn project director Khondoker Mahbub Alam, also superintendent engineer at DNCC, told The Business Standard that a Revised Development Project Proposal with estimated cost of Tk31 crore has been placed to the planning ministry for building the nine U-turns.
U-turns in Uttara
The U-turns that made life easier for the commuters are two 50ft-wide pitcher-shaped median openings with a Z-shaped island in between on the 100ft-wide highway.
The south-bound vehicles from west part of Uttara, particularly from sectors 3, 5 and 7, take opposite turn on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at this specific U-turn in front of Rajlakshmi Shopping Centre while the north-bound vehicles from the sectors 4 and 6 of Uttara use the second U-turn at the same point.
Ranjan Kumar, a chauffeur who works for an Uttara-based business enterprise, told The Business Standard, "The U-turns noticeably eased traffic congestion in Uttara."
U-turn project director Mahbub, citing a feasibility study, said that the series of U-turn, if implemented, would lessen traffic congestion by 25 to 30 per cent.
"The proposed nine other U-turns would be accommodated within the existing road spaces. It won't need significant changes in the existing physical structures."
Replication will not work at all points
A traffic police, seeking anonymity, said that the proposed fourth U-turn adjacent to Army Golf Club, Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden hotel, Dhaka Cantonment Rail Station and Kurmitola General Hospital would be totally unnecessary.
There is a median opening right in front of the Radisson hotel. Outgoing vehicles from the rail station and the hotel use the opening for making U-turns. Besides, vehicles leaving the hospital and the golf club make U-turns using Kuril Flyover, he added.
The sixth U-turn would be built 400m north of Kakali intersection, one of the busiest crossings in Dhaka city.
Traffic police deployed at the intersection warned about potential crisis if the U-turn is implemented.
Sergeant Nazmul of Gulshan Traffic Zone said, "In Banani, the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway is not as spacious as it is in Uttara. A wide U-turn will narrow the lanes and create a bottleneck for the north-bound as well as Mohakhali-bound inter-district buses."
He reminded that the U-turn built on a pilot basis at the same place had ended up unsuccessful.
He further overserved, "The west-side plot of the proposed U-turn is a Dhaka Elevated Expressway site. There is limited land space. At least 30-feet road, excluding the space a U-turn takes, is required for the free flow of northbound vehicles from the south. Besides, speed breakers at several points before the U-turn would be needed to evade collisions among the moving vehicles."
Traffic police personnel have expressed their concerns over the proposed site for the 11th U-turn at Satrasta intersection under Moghbazar flyover.
"Already a pair of U-turns exists at the place. With the U-turns, traffic movement from nine directions makes traffic management too challenging. Rather, a U-turn before Rainbow intersection and another before the north-end of the flyover would be effective," said Quamrul Islam, traffic inspector of Tejgaon Industrial Area Traffic Zone.
According to Dr SM Saleh Uddin, former executive director of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority, the Uttara-style design, which has two sequentially placed U-turns for vehicles moving from opposite directions, would not work at all at the proposed locations.
He told The Business Standard that a guided U-turn would work where streets are less spacious.
"In such facilities, moving vehicles would be guided by street sign behind 100m to enter a designated lane leading to a U-turn. The system would take less space than the Uttara-style U-turns," Saleh said.
Amid concerns, U-turn project director Mahbub said that the proposed U-turns would not be prototypic.
"The U-turn project proposal contains a 'conceptual' or 'typicaldesign'. After analysing landscape and traffic conditionof all individual sites, we will build only suitable U-turn there," he said.