By now most of you have probably heard of the controversial Fouad Boutros road project which will cut through Ashrafieh via a series of overpasses and a tunnel.
I’ve been waiting some time for maps from the municipality/Council for Development and Reconstruction and I finally received this one of the tunnel.
As you can see, more trees have been added, perhaps in response to activist calls to scrap the project in favor of a park. But beyond the arguments of saving heritage and green spaces, some have also criticized the project on a technical level.
The tunnel in the rendering above passes fairly close to the left edge the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and then veers sharply to the right before heading down to Salah Labki street– which will cross above it at the top roundabout– before continuing toward Armenia street in Mar Mikhael (not shown), which the road will cross with an overpass.
The Archdiocese, which is located behind the parking lot on Charles Malik boulevard, has a red roof and cross shape. The tunnel opens up not far from the T-section on Labaki street, right of The Private hotel.
One problem, some activists and urban planners say, is that Labki is an already overburdened one-way, one lane street that turns to intense gridlock during rush hour when the Greek Orthodox Hospital unloads hordes of cars from its parking garages as employees leave work.
The plan above will see 3 new lanes feeding into crowded Labaki street and some say this will lead to new bottlenecks above the tunnel.
Activists say there could be similar gridlock problems with the other overpasses created by the project, particularly on Charles Malik street, but those plans have not been made available despite requests.
I wonder if there are any urban planners and traffic experts out there that can offer their thoughts.
UPDATE: You can read my full report on the project in The Daily Star here.