Unfriendly toll booths

TOLL booths and super highways go together like a horse and a tonga. However, the most important aspect of building them seems to have escaped the contractors. The toll booth has to be user friendly which means ingress and egress has to be smooth. To facilitate this, signage has to be accurate, the driver must be informed well in advance what he is expected to do and where. The size of the font and placement of the signage is all important. Entry to the booths must be demarcated well in advance to avoid confusion. None of this is in evidence on the newly opened Pinjore-Kalka bypass. It is only when you got to the actual booth that a sign announces "Car-cash" or "Truck-bus". These signs should be a 100 metres before the toll booth. This will make sure vehicles are in their respective lanes.

When you get to the point of paying the toll, the sign indicating the amount is not visible. It is the size of an A-4 paper and hidden behind the security bars. The font is too small to read, (see photo). Drivers have to ask the attendant how much to pay! This sign should be atleast 1.0 x 0.5 metre in size and the font should be readable from 25 metres away so that the driver can get the money ready. A few kilometres after the toll booth the bypass starts. There is a traffic light at this point.

The sign indicating the amount to be paid at a toll booth should be reader friendly
The sign indicating the amount to be paid at a toll booth should be reader friendly

How can a traffic light be put up on a fast-flowing (supposedly!) National Highway? There should be an overpass/ underpass to give uninterrupted movement on NH 22. There is a plethora of road signs at this junction, each one designed to lead you astray. A tourist coming from Delhi needs to know the way to Kasauli, a favoured destination, to Dharampur, Barog, Shimla. These names are missing. Mallah, a little-known, unimportant village finds favour.

The master piece of signage is at the end of the 10km bypass. As you start down the bye pass a sign reads: "Pinjore 6, Ferozepur 254!" Ferozepur? The tourist coming back from Himachal wants to know how to get to Chandigarh, Zirakpur, Ambala, may be Rajpura or even Delhi. No such names are in sight.

So now you are on the super smooth fast bypass. The purpose of building a road is not to have just a road. It should be a safe road. This 10-km stretch is anything but safe. It is not a dedicated highway for motorised traffic. The off side is without a barrier which allows local traffic to join the bypass at unauthorised points. It allows traffic to flow in both directions. Trucks hog the right hand lane. There is not one sign for "Keep left". There is no patrolling by the N.H.A.I. to monitor traffic, with cycles, pedestrians and on occasions an animal drawn cart, often going the wrong way and against traffic. And of course, that ever present danger on Indian roads. Stray cattle. Itís a killer road.

A few kilometres down the road you enter Himachal from Haryana. This is where you pay a state entry tax to Himachal. The officials stand on the road side in the scorching sun with a crude make shift barrier. No booths! The contractor forgot to build them! This is an indication of how much thought and planning has gone into building this bypass.

Then there are rumble strips on corners. They are banned in many countries. Why? They destabilise vehicles. Itís the last thing that should be on a high-speed highway and that also on corners. They pose yet another danger.

The whole exercise has not been carried out by experts. Yes, roads are being made, crores being spent but the desired results are missing.

Happy Motoring !





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