LAHORE: MM Alam Road is to be converted into a two-way street divided by a median, while more ambitious plans for the development of Gulberg have been put on hold because of a lack of funds.

The Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (Tepa) will start work on the dilapidated MM Alam Road in about 15 days, said Tepa Director Asrar Saeed. “The rehabilitation had been delayed quite a few times,” he said.

“The plan for the rehabilitation of the road has been changed as well. The previous ones were either to make the road one-way or pedestrians-only, but now we are going to keep it as a two-way track.”

Saeed said that a median would be built in the two-kilometre road from Hussain Chowk to Main Boulevard, with five crossings provided where drivers can take u-turns. Both sides of the road will be 24 metres wide, enough room for four lanes in total. Another 10 metres will be left on both sides to allow for parking space, he said. Drainage and footpaths will also be built.

Tepa had been planning a comprehensive redevelopment of central Gulberg into the Central Business District (CBD), as it was dubbed by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). Under the old plan, another four parking plazas were to be built close to Liberty Market, a flyover at Mahmood Ali Kasoori road, parallel to Jinnah Flyover, a tram system and the revamp of MM Alam Road into a one-way or pedestrian-only route.

While the plans had to be put on hold because of a lack of funds, businesses were still pressing for repair of the crumbling MM Alam Road, plans for which had been mooted and shelved repeatedly.

“We welcome the decision to rehabilitate the most important road in the area,” said Sheikh Saleem, chairman of the MM Alam Road Traders Association. He said that the road revamp would raise property prices and encourage more commercial activity, so businesses were pleased.
“But they must complete the project as early as possible as delays will affect business,” he said. Parking space would also remain a major concern.

Saeed said that the road works would take about three months to finish, and then a “proper parking plan” would be implemented. He said that the Doongi Ground where the authorities wanted to build a parking plaza, only to have the Lahore High Court stay the plan – would be used for parking. The High Court allowed it to be used for parking, he said.

He said that the plans to build parking plazas and the flyover had not been cancelled, only put on hold.

(Read: Urban planning – MM Alam Road to be heart of new business district)