Skywalks rise above Mumbai traffic

ARUNA RATHOD | Updated on March 03, 2011 Published on March 03, 2011

Yellow caterpillars' that literally lift pedestrians off Mumbai's busiest streets and help them reach their destination safely. - Photo: Aruna Rathod

Bright yellow railings and green canopies — the skywalks of Mumbai and its suburbs are the new contemporary structures that soar high above congested roads, snake around the urban chaos, and efficiently and effortlessly transport pedestrians from one point to another. Fondly referred to as yellow caterpillars, the skywalks have not only eased the movement of pedestrians and decongested high-traffic areas by literally lifting people off the city's busiest streets, they have also added a beautiful dimension to its street architecture.

Numbering 26 so far, with the latest being opened in Vasai and Cotton Green, ten more skywalks are under construction as part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's (MMRDA) initiative to raise 36 skywalks between the island city and its suburbs. In some areas such as Bandra, Vidyavihar, Kanjurmarg, Ghatkopar and Santacruz, the skywalks have brought about substantial improvements. Bandra has three skywalks, one each in the East and West, while the third is an extension of the Bandra-Kurla Complex that provides more than two lakh people a direct link from the central business district to the railway station, soaring over two major highways and cutting walking time by almost 10 minutes.

The skywalks — or elevated walkways — are also meant to curb instances of jaywalking.

“The suburban railway stations have a huge turnover of disembarking commuters, who then either take a connecting mode of transport such as a bus or a rickshaw, or just walk to their destination. A dedicated skywalk discourages pedestrians from scurrying around and systematically guides the flow of pedestrians,” says Ashwini Bhide, Joint Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA. Mumbai's skywalks project was jointly conceived by MMRDA and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) in 2003, and executed under the Station Area Traffic Improvement System (SATIS) project.

The sleek structures have also enhanced the general appearance of the surrounding areas. “Mumbai's colourful skywalks are in stark contrast to the congested and monotonous surroundings, bringing a cheerful appeal and visual relief to the cityscape,” says architect Pradeep Vaidya, who adds that the real challenge for the civic administration would be the maintenance of these vital structures over the years. According to Vaidya, concepts such as skywalks also present an opportunity to simultaneously educate citizens on improved civic sense, even as they adapt to the new useful infrastructure.

Located at vantage points, the skywalks additionally have potential to attract advertising revenues. About 50,000 sq metres of display area is available on the 36 skywalks, including premium space for billboards and backlit banners. “The advertising revenue will run into crores, which will not only cover the maintenance expenses for the skywalks, but also go a long way in recovering the construction cost of these marvellous structures,” says advertising professional Deepak Seth.

By the way, if you want to add some novelty to your morning walk or evening stroll, why not try the new skywalk routine?

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Published on March 03, 2011
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