Project status Plans submitted to municipality
The Fort area of Mumbai is singularly blessed with pavements and plazas, excellent train and bus connections and lovely old buildings. Despite this, the commercial district isn’t easy to traverse with its poor traffic management, high volume of commuters and bad street design. That’s what the Fort-based Urban Design Research Institute hopes to fix. After working on projects in Churchgate and Ballard Estate, the UDRI realised that their problems were interconnected and turned their attention to the larger Fort area. The Fort Management Plan provides solutions for everything from heritage and open spaces to parking and solid waste management.
“The idea was not about spending a lot of money,” said Deepali Mody, the research fellowship director at UDRI, “It tries to solve things with the least amount of intervention and the least amount of budget.” UDRI first commissioned surveys to collect data on such minutiae as the size of hawkers’ stalls, the space available at bus stops, the duration of traffic signals, the number of benches and working water fountains. The deep data helped them come up with specific recommendations that are largely aimed at making the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Among UDRI’s biggest recommendations: pedestrianising certain streets and junctions like Flora Fountain and Perin Nariman Street (running parallel to Modi Street). They have also suggested that major junctions like the ones at Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus should have a scramble intersection, which allows pedestrians to cross diagonally. In addition, the report suggests that footpaths be at least 1.5 metres wide, with those in the business and shopping districts even wider; that hawkers, signage and toilets be relocated to ensure easy pedestrian movement; and that more space be created in front of bus stops so commuters don’t have to wait on the street. Other suggestions include more benches for people to sit on and repairing heritage fountains. And to ensure that Fashion Street hawkers don’t block a pedestrian’s view of the revitalised Cross Maidan, UDRI has suggested that the vendors be moved to a utility area a few feet away from the railing and the pedestrian walkway be positioned between them and the maidan railing.
One recommendation that has already been implemented is a shuttle service called the Fort Pheri, which carries commuters to key locations like Mantralaya, CST, Churchgate, Ballard Estate and the Regal Junction. Since the Federation of Residents Trusts, made up of sixteen residents’ associations, has already signed off on the rest of the plan, all that remains is getting the government to approve and implement it. Mody is hopeful. We have received “a very good response from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai,” she said.
By Nergish Sunavala on February 17 2012 5.11pm