Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway: Key pros & shortcomings after a drive

Autorickshaws & 2 wheelers were aplenty on a Sunday evening return that on many occasions the left lane was blocked by them.

BHPian paragsachania recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

A drive on the Bengaluru-Mysuru "Expressway":

Did something that I would desist on a weekend. Ended up doing a round-trip to Mysore and back on a Sunday and for “sight-seeing”. I had no choice but to give in to nuptial obligation of helping few guests who were here on a short visit to Bangalore and were eager to see the city of palaces, Mysore.

All my earlier drives to Mysore have strictly been on weekdays and even if by chance I had to drive on a weekend, I had preferred taking the Bellur Cross-Nagamangala-Pandavapura route to avoid the mess on the erstwhile 4 lane National Highway. Hence, this was also my first drive on the newly “completed” highway also touted as “expressway”.

Few good things first:

  • Great time saver– Bangalore Mysore is now seriously a cakewalk in terms of driving.
  • Good road surface– Not much or zero undulations, nearly seamless expansion joints.
  • Well done elevated sections that bypass most of the towns.
  • Reasonable waiting times at the entry/exit toll booths even on a busy holiday weekend.
  • Width of the lanes remains consistent including presence of shoulder throughout 95% of the highway barring few bridges.
  • Stress-free- All of the above factors make sure that the driving experience is absolutely a stress-free affair now.

The shortcomings:- Things that could have been better:

While all of us went gung-ho about this expressway, the primary reason was something that we all would acknowledge. The pain of crossing towns and haphazard traffic rendering the left lane almost useless during many of our earlier drives. The time taken for such short distance earlier was anywhere between 3 to 5 hours depending on the day and time one was driving. Hence, it is an undeniable fact that today one of the sole reasons why all of us find this road a lot better is largely attributed to the time that it saves for every reason referred above. Given its present state, there are still some of the critical aspects that bother me and fixing them may not really better the timings further but will surely make this highway much safer and accident free.

  • Unscientific entry and exit points Not referring to those which are “carved out” by the villagers in protest for reasons best known to all of us and discussed here, the entry and exits that have been designed by the authorities are indeed very dangerous. They appear out of nowhere and without a safe (extra) lane to exit or merge back with placement of collapsible plastic bollards. Vehicles tailing traffic on the first lane often either come to a dead stop due to one of the vehicles ahead of them taking an exit or one of the vehicles merging. At times, few vehicles suddenly shift lanes from left to center.
  • Absence of a merging lane – A very bad implementation if one wants to refer to this as expressway. If anyone is merging onto this highway, the vehicle is immediately on the left lane with no proper lane to assist seamless merging. While constraint of space is very much the reason for completely ignoring this, it would have been immensely helpful to ensure an extra lane at merging points (Including exits).
  • Lane indiscipline rules here – So the KSRTC buses, TTs and other LCVs which were always infamous on this road for constantly hogging the fast lane next to median shamelessly continue to indulge in this behaviour even now despite of free flowing traffic for the entire stretch. Discount them and we still have cars in all shapes, sizes and BHP figures still driving at 60 kmph completely oblivious to the block they are causing to those wanting to overtake. This behaviour was quite rampant on the entire stretch and on all 3 lanes.
  • Be my guest, all are welcome – Autorickshaws & 2 wheelers were aplenty on a Sunday evening return that on many occasions the left lane was blocked by them and at times 2 wheelers trying to overtake from the center lane without checking their RVMs. So many entries and exits have quite merrily welcomed vehicles of all types on this expressway which completely mars the driving experience. Not to forget the fact that few of these 2 wheelers that run out of breath around 100 kph also overtake you at their top speeds and ride parallel with you for long distances or cut you abruptly. Hence, unless you press that throttle and increase the gap or release the pedal and make way, its definitely a very uncomfortable situation.
  • Not a fast road on a busy day – Blame this on the haphazard lane indiscipline, if you want to drive even between 100-120 kph on a busy weekend, you will not be able to do that without zig-zagging and cutting through slower than usual traffic or braking multiple times. We were 6 of us and driving anywhere above 100 kph would mean compromising on the passenger comfort by lane changes or frequent braking. Hence, on a busy weekend, you are better of driving between 85-100 kph and keep everyone happy. Driving faster is certainly an option though.
  • Of broken mesh fencing and “customer friendly” restaurants – Many places especially in front of popular eateries had broken mesh and line of cars merrily parked on the shoulder to access these facilities. Somewhere before the exit toll towards Bangalore, I also noticed 2 cars parked to sip tea and relish snacks from a cart parked on the shoulder lane and a small opening in the mesh fencing. Food plazas at strategic points in both directions should help in future.
  • I ain’t no paying toll – Many regular users have found a way to escape paying toll. They would exit onto the service lanes before the toll booths and merge back at the next entry point after the booths. If such points remain the way they are, it is sure for certain that the projected revenue collection from toll will witness a significant shortfall.
  • Seamless entry/exits onto Mysore ORR and Bangalore NICE roads- Wishful thinking this but the choking points indeed are the Manipal Hospital (Columbia Asia signal) at Mysore and NICE road interchange at Bangalore for onward and return respectively. We have often seen how expressways are designed in such a way that they have beautifully designed interchanges that will direct traffic onto major entry points into the cities seamlessly. Though we didn’t face much of a problem during our drive with these, traffic had surely chocked up at the ends.

The merging lane, short in length and right into the 1st lane:

Weekend traffic felt like outer ring road:

2 wheelers and rickshaws were a regular affair:

And such 2 wheelers would often get into the center lane at 80 kph to overtake:

One of the many unscientific entry and exits all along this highway:

Dangerously parked vehicles, 2 wheeler with a licence (headlight), slowed me down to the 20s:

In summary, the newly opened highway is a definite time saver and quite arguably an immensely stress-free experience compared to yesteryears. Politics aside but this road certainly must me made an access-controlled highway. The sad part however is that since this is not a completely greenfield expressway like almost all of the expressways in our country, it is going to be a tough challenge to address all these shortcomings.

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