An expressway to disaster

Of late the express way which connects urban Thimphu to its outskirts, has proved to be a gross misnomer of itself, and for the commuters cruising along its surface the drive is everything but a pleasant driving experience.

The root of all tainted records for the 6.2 km stretch of asphalt lies in the line of green fences which runs  right from its middle as a divider for the left and right lanes. The fences are torn or bent-out-of-shape in many odd places along the whole stretch.

These flaps and coils of the metal fences has suddenly proved dangerous and highly risky for the speeding commuters who have to negotiate road-space to stay within their lanes or to overtake other vehicles.

With no proper pathway identified for pedestrians to cross the road, people even in the past had to zip-past speedily approaching vehicles which drive at speeds no lesser than 50 kms per hour.

With the introduction of this new hazard-item, the pedestrian which includes small children, school students and senior citizens will now have to risk dual risk-factors of getting run-down by cars or sustain injuries from the metal fences.

The Executive Engineer of Thimphu Thromde Sangay Wangdi said that they were maintained the fences whenever needed but people damaged it every now and then.

He said that the maintenance is still underway and they are waiting for the materials as supply order for the equipments is done.

“I nearly got into an accident, twice since the fences were not fixed tightly and it was bent toward the highway,” said a contractor, Neten Wangdi.

Similarly a corporate employee Singye had to repair his car since the sharp edge of the fence banged his side mirror.

“It’s more risky during the office hours as it is not visible for a driver to see the curved fences,” said Neten Wangdi.

Sonam Rinchen a civil servant suggested not having fences since most of the accidents on the expressway damaged the fences.

“It’s quite risky to overtake since there is a fear that bent fence may hit a car,” he said.

While an official from Bhutan National Legal Institute said that it would be better if it could replace with concrete wall just like the one near swimming pool area.

While the Executive engineer from Thimphu Thromde said for one block it cost around Nu 8000 and for the entire express highway it might escalate to around 20 mn.

“We thought of replacing the fence with steel, still it was expensive so we thought of continuing with the same fence,” he said.

“Haywire fences seem to be hideous and disorganized,” said a pedestrian.

The Executive engineer added that they are planting saplings in between the fence; and will continue maintaining the fence.

However the severe damage near Flyover Bridge would be maintained by the concerned contractor who had to dig the hole to maintain the water pipe.

Residents nearby said that the street lights in the area were not working though it is mandatory to have street lights since cars in the express highway should drive with low beam light.

There were around 50 accidents in 2010 and 107 last year caused due to poor vision in the area.

The Executive engineer said electricians were sent to repair all the street lights. There might be few where the bulb might get fused.

Thimphu thromde was authorized to maintain more than 200 km roads within the capital on 1 July, 2011 by Department of Roads, under the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS).

One of the engineers from MoWHS said that the road divider fence, technically called as median is used for safety measures. It is meant to avoid clashes between the cars.

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  1. for such a mess of an idea and worse mess of a project, is all you can talk about the fence inbetween? how about all the people living beside the expressway that have to drive miles just to reach the entry and exit points?

    Our extra expense is not justified for the benefit of 50kmph.

  2. Actually there is no need of any fences there, this can reduce unnecessary costs and accidents. 

  3. The fence idea came up after they realized that pedestrians could simply walk across the expressway.This is never allowed on expressways. After they built the fence, they realized that there was no other way for pedestrians to get to the other side. So they punched holes in the fence (still allowing pedestrians to cross the expressway).

    You can see how little brain activity was used to conceiving of, designing and building this expressway. 

    My recommendation is to see it for what it is: nothing more than a hyped up city road with speed limits. So downgrade the whole damn thing, put speed bumps, remove the guard rails and the fence and have zebra crossings for pedestrians and the problems are solved.

  4. Hello Dumb Engineers,
       For your kind information, expressways normally have overpass bridges or underpasses  not a small hole in the fence for pedestrians to take a chance and run across.
      If you ever have been out of country to study Expressway designs (which you would have plentiful), then put Pedestrian bridges,  dumbos !!!!

    • That’s a great title, Dumb Engineers (DE). I guess SE would stand for Stupid Engineers. AE would be Asinine Engineers. JE would be Jackass Engineer. You could call the rabbithole in the fence our engineers’ greatest invention for public convenience.

      RUN BABY RUN! 

  5. These iron fences are just nothing but a obstruction for drivers. This  can  be damaging   or heighten the injury if met with an accident. Moreover, this looks like a Jaigoan strret with iron fencing. 
    No body is loking at the Olarongchu flyer over diversion. it is very dangerous. I am talking about road leading to and fro from the Singye Petrol pump. It should be made only one way coming from the back. At the current rate with both roads, it is very dangerous. From under pass it should be leading towards the Thimphu direction from under the bridge (right turn).. Just my observation

    • ha ha ha! yes those iron fences are just obstructions to drunken drivers and MPs who are anyway going across to the other side!

      Regarding the underpasses, from what I’ve been told according to the plan they are supposed to be 2-way. They have to be, otherwise the long route becomes too long to go the other way. Unfortunately the implementers seem to have forgotten to complete the work and none of the underpasses are proper width. 

      Instead of underpasses,it would be even better if they introduced u-turns in the middle as was originally in the plans. that way the underpasses can remain one-way it doesn’t matter. 

  6.  Replacing the fence with blocks may be expensive once. Let’s say the wired fance is damaged, and needs on and then repair, the cost wil shot in maintainace.    The divider is used to prevent other cars of opposite direction  from being hit while accident. For eg. Car going to wards babas a hits the fance n hit the car of opposite direction, that poses risk. If instead block will do prevent n it will have to be maintained less compared to fence. 

  7. I am sure the large amount of money spent on the expressway had a big role in the rupee crisis we are currently facing and until now, not even one person has been made responsible for the disaster that we call the ‘Expressway’,  No wonder, nothing good ever seems to be happening and it is simply down to the fact that no one is accountable for any wrong doing. And because of the corruption involved in all these big money projects, the officers are corrupt, the contractors are corrupt, the accountants are corrupt and the chain seems to go on.

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