Battle Over Closure of Paris Expressways

A political battle is brewing in Paris, where the city's mayor wants to close off sections of roadway along the River Seine, a move that President Nicholas Sarkozy is against.

Closing the roads to car traffic is part of Mayor Bertran Delanoe's efforts to make the city more pedestrian friendly. But some say the expressways in question are too important to the city's mobility to close.

"The Seine expressways were built in the 1970s as the linchpin of a program by President Georges Pompidou to turn Paris into "a city for the automobile." On the Right Bank, the expressway carries 40,000 vehicles per day and 4,000 an hour at peak times, according to City Hall figures. On the Left Bank, the traffic is lighter but still reaches 2,000 vehicles per hour at rush hour.

According to Mr. Delanoë's office, rerouting traffic away from the riverbanks would increase commute times across the city by only six minutes. But some commuters and taxi drivers warn that congestion in the city, already scarcely tolerable, would be made far worse."

Full Story: Watery Future for the City of Light

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