The global phenomena of climate change derives its major share from the transportation industry. It significantly affects the urban fabric of India for the ever-increasing vehicular mobility and the pollution caused by them. City planners are developing effective transit systems for the urban population to deal with this congestion.  In this regard, the government of Chennai has initiated the redesigning of the Thyagaraya Road market street as a pedestrian plaza under the label of Smart Cities Mission, Chennai. It estimates the project cost to be 33.8 crores.

The proposal was brought on board earlier in 2018 and since then; it has progressed rapidly into the phase of execution. The idea was to develop a pedestrian-friendly module that can be replicated in other parts of the country in a similar context. The project is being recognized as the “Pedestrian Plaza”. The proposal finds its inspiration from western countries where such modules have successfully contributed to the decongestion of roads and reduced pollution levels.

Prior to project commencement, the city has already run through two trials to block off the traffic and give people the experience of a car-free pedestrian mall. The central idea of the proposal is to utilize the space available on the existing road and pavement to incorporate all essential pedestrian amenities. This is to create an open social space on the outside of shops which would be free of automobiles. It would enable people, especially the differently abled and senior citizens to freely have a walk along the street. In many such instances of pedestrianisation of roads, the streets have served as a catalyst for economic growth by attracting tourists and locals. The Greater Chennai Corporation has visioned to promote an environment-friendly city by encouraging its citizens to reduce vehicular usage and take up walking on the Pedestrian Plaza street.

The project aims to achieve improved walkways on both sides of the road, hassle-free wheelchair passage, ornamented lamp posts and creating traffic islands. The government considers the street redesign as a major contributor to the city beautification plan for Chennai along with promoting walking as an exercise, socializing at these places would also reduce stress and improve the mental wellbeing of the citizens.

The significant components of the pedestrian plaza include wheelchair passage for the disabled, senior citizen and pedestrian friendly footpath, street furniture like seating arrangements, signages, children’s play area, greenery and smart toilet, separate ducts for telephone and electricity cables, storm-water drain on either side of the road, bus shelter and street lights, street art like statues and fountain. They would provide the pedestrian crossing at regular intervals and all the utility pillar boxes would be re-aligned, for the free movement of pedestrians.

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