Younten Tshedup

The long-awaited overhead footbridge along the expressway in Olakha is beginning to take shape.

Earlier this week, Thimphu Thromde’s pilot project finally took off with the laying of the bridges’ foundation.

The 5.2m-high-and-25m-long footbridge is being constructed near the Pelkhil School intersection that has a bus and taxi stand.

Officials from the thromde’s infrastructure division said that the location for the pilot project was identified given the high density of motor and pedestrian traffic in the area.

After receiving a lukewarm response from the public on the use of the two underpasses along the Doebum Lam (swimming pool road), the thromde is switching to an overhead pedestrian footbridge.

“Not many people were utilising the two underpasses and we couldn’t control people crossing the road,” said an official. There were also incidents of vandalism reported at the two underpasses a few months after it was open to the public.

The official said that considering the safety of the pedestrians, the thromde decided to construct the overhead footbridge. “If the pilot project is successful, we would replicate the same in other places too.”

She said that the structure could not be made disabled-friendly for now given the limited space. The footbridge would incorporate traditional designs and also be earthquake resistant.

A businessman, Tashi Tshering said that overhead footbridges, especially across expressway and Doebum Lam, have become necessary with the increasing vehicles in the capital.

“This was long overdue with the city’s vehicular and pedestrian traffic expanding. More order is needed on Thimphu’s roads and footpaths.”

There were fatal accidents along the expressway. A corporate employee said that even if a pedestrian is careful, there are reckless drivers.

“Agencies concerned need to reconsider the maximum speed that people should be allowed to drive on the expressway.”

Meanwhile, once the overhead footbridge is completed, towards the end of the year, the zebra crossing near the structure would be removed.

A private contractor is executing the Nu 3 million project.