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04 Dec 2023, Edition - 3065, Monday

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All “Roads” lead to Race Course .

Satish Balagopal


“ When do I buy a property in Race course ?” from a popular ad on the FM radio.

Race Course , doubtless is a prime residential area in Coimbatore . The name comes from the fact this oval road of 2.5 Kms was once a horse racing track under the British era. There are still some colonial bungalows along with the erstwhile English Club (now Coimbatore Club) , The All Souls Church , Thomas Park etc .

Tea Estate Compound is one area in Race Course consisting of a few roads and plenty of residences. It is located behind the Shakti Sugars corporate office and has the GST Bhavan as its famous land mark; The Tea Estate Road, and ATD Road form this region and it is connected to GD Street to the west and to the Race Course main road to the south.

This is a small quiet neighborhood where residences have maintained road side lawns and trees.

Every other year only the Race Course ring road gets a metal top up and maybe a re-lay. It prominently figures in the Smart City plans of the corporation. Now this ring road is littered with eateries and apartments so much that its virtually unrecognizable. Stray dog menace due to improper disposal of garbage, illegal constructions , and the general increase in population has put pressure on the existing infrastructure.

When I was in school we used to cycle these roads with our cricket gear and play under any available space. The streets had well maintained roads and of course less traffic and construction.

I still recall in 1984, how the roads had to be shut down and my dad had to park our family car at the back of our house when a road roller started to grind its way into the street. The smell of the tar drums, loads of blue metal stones , men in black boots faces covered in soot were a welcome sight. We kids watched a road being laid for the first time and got our kicks when we walked on the fresh tar and got our shoes stuck.
My dad was so thrilled and so were our neighbors . The reason was we were getting a new road laid. Some including us paid extra and had our driveways done up too. Now my son has finished his school and only the remnants of the “roads” are visible.

Of course, the practice of digging up a newly laid road on completion to re-lay cables or pipelines continued. Still the Tea Estate Road was very motorable and the residents occasionally would fill up pot holes post monsoon.

All this changed few years ago with the advent of fibre optics and maybe some corporation works . One after the other various departments relentlessly dug , dug , and dug each square feet on each road , left , right and centreand on completion never bothered to close the pits properly let alone re-lay them.

The roads inside Tea estate were 30 feet wide , are now only a few feet wide. The rest has been ravaged. In fact there are trees which have started growing . Everyday one reads potholes being filled up in the newspapers. I laugh to myself and think of my roads. Only when you have a road you have pot-holes.

The GD street easily resembles a war ravaged Afghanistan. Our streets I admit take second place. We only resemble a carpet bombed Iraqi airport during the gulf war. The junction where the GD street meets Thiruganasamandam road( BishopAppaswamy college road) is simply CHAOS.

GD Street: Picture taken from the middle of the road. Less than one half on the left and less than one quarter on the right is what is available. The rest is car parking space.

Cars and bikes park as they please, shops which do not have adequate parking spaces have greatly contributed to this. Residents often find cars and vehicles blocking their entrances. As mentioned earlier, the GD street has barely a few feet of road remaining. On top of this if you have cars parked on both sides imagine the plight of commuters.

If one travels around Race Course road you would encounter speed breakers or barricades to slow you down. Well, inside Tea Estates we have our quarter roads, pot holes and exposed pipelines. These are designed to slow every vehicle down including prams . On occasions we do have mini fountains on the middle of the road. These are from exposed pipe lines which spring a leak .

Well, in 15 years it would be half a century since the roads were laid in our area.

I hope the corporation re-lays our roads and I can be as thrilled as my dad and his neighbors on hearing the rumble of the road rollers.

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