Paris's Ring Road Turns 40, Is There Any Reason to Celebrate?

Paris's Boulevard Peripherique is one of the most clogged roadways in Europe, it delivers dangerous pollution to 100,000 people in its vicinity, and this year it turned 40. Lara Marlowe looks at the future for one of Paris's little loved landscapes.
May 3, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Back in 1973, when the périphérique was opened, it was used by 160,000 motorists a day. At age 40, the ring road is entering its midlife crisis. Its future, like that of France, is far from certain. 'What was once a symbol of triumphant modernity has become, in scarcely four decades, a ‘car sewer’,' said Le Figaro . Environmentalists would like to dismantle it. René Dutrey, the Green official responsible for sustainable development at Paris town hall, calls it 'an aberration'."

"[Paris Mayor Bertrand] Delanoë hopes to reduce the legal speed on the highway from 80kmh to 70kmh this summer. The city is experimenting with a new kind of noise-reducing asphalt, and the Greens advocate covering part of the road with an electricity-producing 'solar canopy' that would lessen noise and air pollution," says Marlowe.

But can these initiatives mitigate the harm caused by the virtual moat that "cuts Paris intra muros from the 29 towns of the banlieue"?

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Published on Thursday, May 2, 2013 in The Irish Times
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