Three infrastructure projects by Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) are taking shape at Central, Shenoy Nagar and Guindy. These projects feature complexes which will have underground parking, food courts, entertainment options and integrated multiple modes of transport.
The Central Square complex will boast of a 30-storey plaza. There will be an underground passenger amenities centre with a mini-mall in west Chennai at Shenoy Nagar and an urban square for south Chennai at Guindy. The facilities are being developed to generate additional non-fare revenue for CMRL.
“The landscaping on street level above Central metro will begin after Pongal holidays. In six months, there will be lawns and greenery. The underground parking at Central will be ready in a year and the one at Shenoy Nagar by March 2021. The Kathipara project will be completed this year,” said a metro rail official.
The underground centre below Shenoy Nagar’s Thiru Vi Ka park, which lost more than 138 trees to make way for the station, is taking shape. Construction slowed down when residents, concerned over losing their only green space, moved court to stop work. Officials said work has picked up pace after the court ruled in CMRL’s favour.
“Shenoy Nagar will become like Anna Nagar in a few years and we want to have a facility which people can utilise. We will begin restoration of the park after construction is complete,” an official said.
Laying the foundation for the 30-storey central plaza is underway. It will double up as an underground parking facility. The square will be a multi-modal hub for commuters who can park vehicles and board buses, trains or metro trains. Work is on to build two new pedestrian subways that will link the government hospital with Central station and Evening Bazaar Road. “Central Square will be an identity for the city. It will decongest the road by taking the pedestrian crowd underground and by providing space for vehicles parked on the road,” an official said. Kathipara will become a multi-modal hub linking Alandur and Guindy metro stations, Guindy suburban railway station, and Alandur and Guindy bus stops.
But experts said CMRL should invest more on last-mile connectivity that will encourage people to use public transport. “Central Square is a great opportunity to seamlessly integrate long-distance trains, metro and sub-urban rail, and buses. But destroying a park to build off-street parking is outdated. Paris followed such old-school principles in the 1960s, but today it is reducing parking requirements. Parking is a magnet that attracts more vehicles,” said Aswathy Dilip, senior programme manager, ITDP.