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Thursday , 13 June 2024

DESIGNER ROADS: Integrating networked services under the road and pedestrian comforts

Project Tender SURE (Specifications for Urban Roads Execution) is about getting the urban roads right. It does away with repeated digging and repairing of roads, thereby enhancing the quality of infrastructure and of the lives of the citizens. Swati Ramanathan, Co-founder of Jana Group (formerly, Indian Urban Space Foundation) who conceptualised Tender SURE with her team answers a few question from TrafficInfraTech. Tender SURE roads being built across Bengaluru have pedestrian centric architecture and design

How was Tender SURE conceived?

In 2009, I left yet another conference on transportation and mobility, thinking to myself that all we are doing is just giving recommendations at 10,000 feet about the problems, whereas on the ground nothing actually changes.

As I waited outside for my vehicle, I observed the micro details of the road I was on: broken footpaths, black stagnant water in the side drain, a leaking pipe spilling water onto the asphalt with engineers opening a valve located in the middle of the road, a zillion cable wires hanging everywhere, transformers and garbage sitting on the footpath whilst people walked on the roads, motorcyclists swerving around raised manholes, fruit vendors on the road, buses blocking traffic picking up passengers in the middle of the road, random parking of autorickshaws, cyclists manouvering, precariously horns blaring everywhere.

This is the reality of our roads – messy and cacophonic, ruthlessly cut up by every agency, monetised by contractors & corporators, and cared for by no one. I thought to myself – if we can’t even get our roads right, how can we talk about bigger ideas on mobility. That “aha” moment was the genesis of Tender SURE.”

With the learnings from initial pilots of Vittal Mallya Road and Walton Road, the idea of Tender SURE was rooted. The Tender SURE Guidelines published by Jana Urban Space, were released by the Chief Minister in 2011. The reason this initiative is called ‘Tender SURE’ is because the tender document is a key aspect of the overall approach.

Extensively researched, with visits to global cities around the world and meetings with their engineers and planners, Tender SURE is the first set of such guidelines for urban roads in India published in two bound volumes. Volume 1 defines design guidelines and Volume 2 provides procurement and execution guidelines. Volume 2 was initiated at the behest of the Chief Secretary of that time, who said, “Currently we end up spending money on the same roads many times. This is very inefficient. Tender SURE is a fantastic concept and will improve the quality and long-term RoI.” Contract guidelines were important to address the issue of “leaks” in road works contracts, as well as provide quality measurement and maintenance criteria. Members of Bangalore City Connect saw merit in the idea of Tender SURE too, and supported it whole heartedly.

In 2012, the Government of Karnataka approved and sanctioned funds for the first set of model TENDER SURE roads to be taken up for Bangalore, at a cost of Rs.200Cr. Even though there were multiple civic bodies involved, it was logical that BBMP would be the nodal agency to actually float the Tender SURE contract and award the work. This also meant that BBMP would need to actively engage with all the other civic agencies in order to ensure that the integrated, holistic approach needed for Tender SURE to succeed was not lost.

Now, the government is implementing over 50km of Tender SURE roads.

The technology details of the project

Tender SURE breaks once, and fixes once-and-for-all 3344

A city road is not just the road, but a carrier of multiple other utilities. They are the “super seven” – power, water, sewage, drainage, telecom (many), gas (new) and security surveillance & traffic management.

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