After Mumbai, Can A Planned Tunnel Road Ease Bengaluru’s Traffic Woes?


About 50 km of the 99 km overall length of the tunnel road is to be developed in the first phase.

With the Mumbai Coast Tunnel Road project gaining attention in Maharashtra, there is now talk of implementing a similar project in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru Tunnel Road project proposal

Under Phase 1, the tunnel road will connect KR Puram to Cantonment and Mekhri Circle to the Central Silk Board under the North to South Corridor and East to West Corridor, respectively. At a cost of Rs 450 crore per kilometre, the 50 km of roads will cost almost Rs 22,000 crore.

A proposal for a 27 km long North-South Corridor connecting Yelahanka-Hosur Road through Hebbal, Mekhri Circle, Cantonment, Kasturba Road, and Central Silk Board was reportedly submitted by AECOM India representatives. A similar presentation was made for the East-West Corridor-1, which runs for around 20 km from Bhatarahalli (KR Puram) to Mekhri Circle and connects the North-South Corridor.

Phase 2 will see the completion of the remaining portions of the East-West Corridors 1, 2, and Central Corridors between St. John’s Hospital Junction and Agara on the Outer Ring Road, Ulsoor and D’souza Circle, and Wheeler’s Road Junction and Kalyan Nagar.

About 50 km of the 99 km overall length of the tunnel road is to be developed in the first phase. The project will create more surface-level road space, allowing for bigger sidewalks, cycle lanes, and bus lanes. Tree cutting will be minimal, and property purchase will only be necessary for tunnel entry and exit.

“There will be lower and upper decks on the tunnel road, one for each direction of driving. Two-wheelers will be allowed to travel in both directions on the upper deck. Bicycle lanes will be sufficiently separated from the main traffic”, said representatives of AECOM, a leading international firm with expertise in urban infrastructure designs.

“A feasibility study, thorough project report, and soil test must be completed prior to the project’s start. A presentation must be made to the chief minister after the deputy chief minister, according to a representative of the urban development department”.

Tunnel Roads as Viable Solution for Bengaluru’s Traffic Woes

Despite the challenges posed by loose earth and hard rock surfaces, tunnel road is feasible in Bangalore, according to Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) official.

However, the official emphasises the importance of conducting a detailed study before proceeding with the project. It is worth noting that the presence of water pipelines and cables should not be a problem, as they have been laid at a depth of less than three meters, while the tunnel road will run at a depth of 80 feet.

Having worked on the tunnel project for Metro Rail Phase 1, the official shares their experience of encountering difficulties in certain areas due to the presence of rocks.

However, they also note that drilling was easier in places with loose soil. These experiences have been valuable in successfully implementing Phase 2 of the project in areas such as City Market, Chickpet, and Majestic.

The expert emphasises the importance of grouting in ensuring the progress of tunnelling work, as it allows for cementing the soil and filling the surroundings with hard material, according to The New Indian Express report.

In comparison to other civic projects that often require acquiring private property or closing busy roads, tunnel roads present fewer obstacles in this regard.

The BMRCL official highlights that water pipelines, pile foundations of large buildings, and the existing Metro network’s tunnels should not pose any significant hurdles during the drilling process. Tunnels will only be drilled after a comprehensive study and survey to ensure their alignment is perfect and without any underground issues, according to an expert.

Previous attempts to build tunnel road

The idea of building tunnel roads to ease traffic congestion has been proposed many times before but has faced strong opposition from environmentalists and public transport activists.

Previous plans to build tunnel roads have been abandoned due to cost concerns and adverse feasibility reports.

In 2017, a Bulgarian company was entrusted with preparing a preliminary report to create a Tunnel Road for the city.

The tunnel road, estimated to cost Rs 25,000 crore, was proposed for a length of 83 kilometre and included three corridors (North-South: Central Silk Board to Hebbal through the city (16 km); East-West: K R Puram to Gorguntepalaya and Jnana Bharathi to Varthur Kodi). Additionally, three connecting corridors were proposed: Agara to Kalasipalya (9.2 km), Richmond Circle to Halasuru (2.3 km), and Kalyan Nagar to St John’s Church Road (7.5 km). The project never made any headway.

In 2015, the state government announced that it was planning a tunnel ring road along the periphery of Bengaluru. The corridor was supposed to begin from Tumakuru Road and pass along Doddaballapur Road, Ballari Road and Sarjapur Road before meeting Hosur Road.

The project, however, was abandoned after the feasibility report found that it was unviable.

In 2011, another proposal for road tunnels was mooted by then Bengaluru development minister R. Ashoka. The project didn’t progress beyond discussions, as the underground metro rail was planned along the same stretch.

In 2007, the Karnataka government led by HD Kumaraswamy proposed to build a 7.1-km tunnel between Minsk Square and Sankey Road, but the proposal was later scrapped.