Environmental activists oppose construction of new highway road near former Tbilisi hippodrome
19 April, 2018
Environmental activists oppose construction of new highway road near former Tbilisi hippodrome
New highway bridge at the crossroads of Tsintsadze and Kartozia Streets near the old hippodrome in Tbilisi is planned to be constructed. The project initiated by Tbilisi City Hall was made public on April 17 causing anger and flow of protest from the citizens and environmental activists. As the Transport Agency of Georgia announced, the construction of highway bridge will be completed in five months and it will cost GEL 2,7 million.

In relation to the construction of new highway
bridge in the vicinity of hippodrome a protest condemning the project is planned to take place in front of the City hall Building,on Kostava Street, at 18:30 on April 19. The gathering is organized by campaign SOS Hippodrome and non-governmental organization Iare Pexit (Walk on Foot) aiming to fight pollution and protect environment.
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New highway road near former hippodrome. Tbilisi City Hall project

According to organization Iare Pexit, the construction of more highways and widening of the existing roads, that are usually related to avoiding traffic jams in reality cannot deal with the flow of traffic. In a long-term perspective it on the contrary causes more problems by increasing the traffic jams and the flow of transport. “The rule of induced demand says widening highways does not ease congestion, and often makes it worse. At first sight it sounds so irrational, yet it is truth and this paradox phenomenon was first discovered by Robert Moses, known as the "master builder", in 1942 when he noticed that the highway built by him in 1939 caused much more problems than before. Later is has been proved that erecting new highways or widening the existing ones simply cover up the problems and have so-called cosmetic effect”, reads the page of Iare Pexit organization.
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New highway road near former hippodrome. Tbilisi City Hall project

As the wired.com reports in its article about widening highways, more lanes often means more traffic because people like to go places, as long as the threat of bumper to bumper doesn't dissuade them. Widening a highway may ease the pressure, but only until everyone learns of the quick, new route about town. As civil engineer and sustainability advocate Charles Marohn so eloquently put it, “Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."

According to the NGO opposing the construction of the new road, Great Britain came to the same decision. Based on the surveys conducted, the more flow capacity on the roads contributes to more use of vehicles and eventually to the congestion. So in the long-term perspective such projects do not work out and on the contrary have negative effect on the entire traffic.
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New highway road near former hippodrome. Tbilisi City Hall project

Tbilisi already has several highway bridges yet people think that the situation in terms of traffic is still worsening. Those countries that have constructed similar highways regret and find themselves trapped in this labyrinth of highway bridges. They try to demolish the road bridges and rehabilitate these places. The activists who fight against the construction of these highways think it spoils urban landscape and brings no benefit to the city.

As the statement by the organizations of civil society reads, despite the petition submitted to the Tbilisi City Hall and signed by 2235 people, the project will be still carried out near former Tbilisi Hippodrome.

The statement also reads that country faces hash ecological crisis that will be worsened in case the project is carried out.
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Former hippodrome of Tbilisi

As Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said in his statement, when the city is in need, we should compromise.

“Some questions might rise in relation to this project, yet we should not abstain from making such decisions, since things should not stay same as it was 50 years ago when only 50 cars moved through the city. We will do our best to replant the existing trees, but those that can’t be replanted, will be cut.”, Kakha kaladze said about the project.

Previously citizens of Tbilisi asked the City Hall to rehabilitate the territory of former Tbilisi hippodrome and turn it into a central park. Currently the area remains abandoned and without care, yet the locals still go for walk, do jogging or play some sports.

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