Mayor stands behind plan on Taksim’s renewal

Mayor stands behind plan on Taksim’s renewal

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Mayor stands behind plan on Taksim’s renewal

Topbaş acknowledges that he had hesitations about the project. DHA Photo

Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş defended the controversial pedestrianization plan for Taksim Square Oct. 15, while also expressing his own “hesitations” about the project.

Taksim is a transit point for Istanbul, Topbaş said, and this feature should be protected by directing vehicles underground into tunnels extending in every direction underneath the square, while opening it to pedestrian traffic only on the surface.

“Taksim has become completely a transit point; it is no longer a living space. So are going try to improve the traffic density [in the square], by removing the bus bays,” Topbaş said, while also acknowledging that he had some “hesitations” about the project, and added that studies to enhance the project continue.

The first phase of the project will build a tunnel connecting Cumhuriyet Avenue to Tarlabaşı Avenue, Topbaş said. The project will be completed in a year according to the municipality’s estimations, he said.

About 1,000 people staged a protest of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s plan to pedestrianize the square on Oct. 14.

The project’s goal is not actually to ease traffic for pedestrians, but rather to give vehicles primacy by creating five tunnels to bypass the square, which could make it very difficult for pedestrians to reach the area, according to the Istanbul Chamber of City Planners.

According to the city’s plan, five tunnels will approach Taksim from every direction, except from İstiklal Avenue. For more than 100 meters in every direction outside the square, pedestrians will have to walk on single-width sidewalks.

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