LAHORE: The government has decided to start work on a flyover at Kalma Chowk to reduce congestion at the intersection, The Express Tribune has learnt. The authorities have also decided to build an underpass at the chowk, but don’t have the money to start the project yet.

The flyover will be a kilometre long and start and end 500 metres either side of Kalma Chowk on Ferozepur Road. The proposed underpass will run from Gulberg Main Boulevard to Garden Town Main Boulevard. The latter will also be widened to take advantage of the new underpass.

Kalma Chowk has been widened twice before, but is now regularly choked with traffic. At peak hours wardens usually switch off the traffic signals and direct traffic manually. Still, the queues of vehicles at the chowk often stretch back to the previous signal.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had asked officials a while ago to make a plan to resolve traffic issues at the chowk. At a meeting chaired by Lahore Commissioner Nadeem Hassan Asif a couple of days ago, it was decided to start work on the flyover. Ferozepur Road was previously under the city district government’s control, but was recently handed over to the Lahore Development Authority

Work on the flyover will start at once, said Israr Saeed, director of the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency. He said that work on the underpass is subject to the availability of funds. He said that an initial estimate put the cost of building the flyover and underpass at Rs2 billion.

Saeed said that the feasibility report would be completed in three months by the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak), following which it would take about a year to construct the flyover.

“The positive thing is that we don’t have to acquire any land for the project as enough land is already available,” he said.

Saeed said that the widening of Garden Town Main Boulevard would begin once the flyover and underpass are in the final stages. “Without broadening the road the underpass might not be as useful as it should be,” he said.

He said that the road would be widened from 24 feet to 36 feet. Another lane will be added along with service lanes. He said that the Barkat Market traffic signal would be removed and the next Y junction would be widened so vehicles could take a u-turn from there.

Saeed estimated that the road widening project would cost Rs275 million. It will include building benches, an overhead pedestrian bridge and new plantations. The feasibility report for this project will also be conducted by Nespak. It will take about four months to complete, he added.