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BENGALURU: Crossing some of the busy roads is likely to be a breeze in a year's time as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has mandated the installation of elevators and escalators in all 137 footover-bridge projects (better known as skywalks). 

The BBMP is building these projects through a public-private partnership. Successful bidders will get commercial advertising rights to earn returns on their investments over a concession period of 30 years.As in the case of highway projects, the bidders will design, build, finance, operate and transfer the project. Already, nine skywalk projects with lifts or escalators have been thrown open for public use. They include Mysuru Road (near Gopalan Mall), Yeshwanthpur railway station, KG Road (near Kandaya Bhavan), Christ College near dairy circle, Marathahalli bridge and Forum Mall on Adugodi Road. 

The construction of seven more skywalks is in progress. Work on three similar projects on Ballari Road is yet to kickstart as BDA was proposing to construct a steel flyover along the stretch. The project has since been shelved. In addition, BBMP will start constructing 30 sky walks soon. “While 16 projects await council's approval, we have floated tender for 14 more skywalk projects,“ a BBMP engineer said. 

“We have got a good response from bidders in East (Mahadevapura zone), North (airport road) and Central Bengaluru. There were not many takers for South and West Bengaluru. There is a discussion to share the cost in places where there is less demand. As each skywalk project costs about `2.5 crore, the palike might offer Rs 20 lakh under viability gap funding to speed up the project.“ 

The BBMP has taken up building quick skywalks which span just the width of the road. 

Experts, however, are asking why not a long skywalk that covers a distance of 700 metres to one kilometre, connecting transport hubs and commercial hotspots? 

“One of the missing gaps in Bengaluru's multi-modal public transport is the last-mile connectivity. This can be solved with long skywalks as in Mumbai,“ said Prashanth Srinivas, founder-director of Catalytic Think Tank Forum, giving the example of BKC-Bandra Station connectivity in Mumbai. 

He added that similar projects, if taken up in Bengaluru, will add passenger traffic to metro and other public transport. They will also encourage people to walk instead of using vehicles for short distances. Srinivas suggested long skywalks connecting Deepanjali metro station to Mysuru Road satellite bus station and Commercial Street and Shivajinagar to MG Road or Cubbon Park metro stations to begin with. 

ZhenTao Ma
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