The new found time and the empty Thimphu roads due to the national lockdown have spurred these thoughts. Traffic in Thimphu is a minor annoyance during rush hours so I am questioning myself whether these thoughts are worth having.
The ongoing construction of a 4-lane road from Chubachhu till Dechenchholing will complete a 4-lane road starting from Taba ending at the Memorial Choeten. I am not sure of the thromde’s plans for the Chubachhu roundabout and the roundabout above the Royal Textile Academy (RTA), but I think that without some modifications to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic, the addition of lanes will be ineffective in reducing traffic.
What will improve the Chubachhu roundabout is difficult to imagine but the obvious improvement to the roundabout above the RTA is a flyover. From my limited perspective, the flyover idea will have resistance on the hounds of tradition, aesthetics and budget. However, the traditional problem of our nangtens passing under bridges during the annual soelthap seems to already be solved since a pedestrian overpass is being constructed at Olakha. The nice road across the river constructed by CDCL for thromde has provided a scenic route for the nangtens which will not be hampered by overpasses. On the aesthetics front, if done properly, the flyover can be constructed beautifully with traditional features. There is also the superstition factor, members of my family still cover their heads when passing under Lungtenzampa. The major issue is whether it is worth the budget to construct expensive flyovers to deal with a minor annoyance. I think since the government has already spent so much to widen the roads it may be worth spending more to make the traffic flow smoother. Of course we will have to wait and see what happens after the road works are complete to see how the traffic behaves.
To get back to the flyover at the RTA roundabout, cars approaching on Desi Lam (from Telecom Office going towards town) can get onto the flyover which will take off before the RTA. Once on the flyover they can get off either on the Doeboom Lam (Swimming pool road) or the Thori Lam (Going to Motithang). This will enable cars coming out from town along the Norzin Lam and cars coming from Doeboom Lam to head straight onto the Desi Lam without needing to wait for traffic to clear. If space permits a flyover for traffic coming on Thori Lam from Motithang to join the Norzin Lam going into town can be made. Another consideration is what the thromde will do once the craft bazaar stalls are shifted to their new location at the expressway. The flyovers once completed will definitely help with the flow of traffic.
Another location that will benefit from a flyover is the entrance to the JDWNR Hospital. The flyover can takeoff from the near the Royal Bhutan Police helipad entrance and can land near where the taxis park. The present gate can be used as an exit and as the entrance for vehicles heading towards the Memorial Choeten. When the Lungtenzampa is remodeled, hopefully the bottleneck that happens when vehicles leave town can be addressed by the new design.
In conclusion, traffic in the capital is presently not much of an issue, however, if the vehicle numbers keep increasing, traffic may get worse.