Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pay your way

In the early- and mid-80s, one went to 'Mahabs' through the road that got out of the city just after Tiruvanmiyur. It had no name in particular, it was just the best way to go to Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram as it was getting to be known as. Tiruvanmiyur was as far as the city reached, and once past the Marudeeswarar Temple, it was fun to go past all those little fishing - or trading - villages along the coast: Kotivakkam, Palavakkam, Neelankarai, Injambakkam, Uthandi, Muthukadu and Kovalam, on to Mahabalipuram. It was a nice route to go through, even if the road itself wasn't much more than a series of village-to-village tar strips and it became popular enough for the 'proper' road to Mahabalipuram came to be called the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR, now recently renamed Rajiv Gandhi Salai). With popularity came traffic and the village roads were not equipped to handle the volumes; even buses to Pondicherry forsook the OMR for the drive by the beaches. By the mid-90s, there was hardly any road left.

It was in 1998 that the whole stretch from Chennai to Cuddalore, through Pondicherry, was taken under the newly set up Tamil Nadu Road Development Company Ltd (TNRDC) and named the East Coast Road (ECR). The TNRDC probably did not worry about upkeep of the road when it first built it; it was only in 2000 that they were given the mandate of maintaining the road also. Even in the intervening two years, the ECR had degenerated, simply because nobody had cared about its upkeep. After another year of repairs and upgradations, the TNRDC began its toll collections on the ECR from March 24, 2002.

I haven't heard too many cribs about the toll rates, mainly because 2-wheelers are exempt from the toll. Of course, if you are only going to the Ragas Dental College, which is just on the other side of this toll plaza, you would certainly crib about paying Rs.45 for a return trip of about 200 metres!

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