Tokyo Underground

How low will planners in Tokyo go to free up open space in one of the most populous and densely packed metropolises in the world?
October 16, 2003, 10am PDT | Connie Chung
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"With 27 million residents, Tokyo is both the world's most populous metropolis and, in many places, one of its most densely packed. That leaves little room for further expansion; already the average commute time is 56 minutes, with some salarymen traveling like sardines on local trains for as long as two hours. The solution? Build down instead of up....The focus today is on burying infrastructure in order to free up space on the surface. The objective: to craft a landscape rich with promenades, bike paths and gardens to form a natural veneer above the 'guts' of the city. The idea isn't new, to be sure, but Japan hopes to implement it on a heretofore untried scale. Tokyo's topography will remain one of clustered towers. But many surface roads will turn to green belts, railway lines will disappear into tunnels and major urban systems, everything from dumps to gas-storage tanks, will move deep underground and all by the middle of this century."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Friday, October 14, 2005 in Newsweek
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