Can New Roads Solve Traffic Problems in Tbilisi?
By Levan Khutsishvili
Thursday, April 19
On April 17, 2018, Tbilisi City Mayor Kakha Kaladze announced about the construction of new transport overpass that will connect Kartozia and Tsintsadze streets in Saburtalo district. Implementation of the project will take about five months and will cost 2 700 000 Gel.
According to the Mayor, the new transport connection will discharge the city streets and will shorten the time of dislodgement for drivers.
“Of course, we cannot solve traffic problems and traffic jams just by building new nodes, but the infrastructure is important to solve the issue. When we talk about the needs of the city, we may have to stop some constructions, or forbid constrictions on some locations, which can cause people's discontent. We may have to cut or plant out trees, but this all will happen in order to have a better city," said Kakha Kaladze.
Part of the civil society is against the project, organizing a rally in front of the City Hall, on April 19.
According to the rally organizers, the new road will worsen ecological situation for the surrounding. The overpass will be constructed next to the former Hippodrome area and a flow of traffic will negatively reflect on the environment.
"Kakha Kaladze’s statement, in which he only responds to the interests of drivers and cares only about their comfort, is astonishing. He doesn’t care for pedestrians and there are no researches on the influence this construction will have on pedestrians. More than 1000 pedestrians are injured in road accidents in Tbilisi and up to 100 die every year. Nowadays, there is an extremely difficult ecological situation in Georgia, and Kakha Kaladze's statement that he will not avoid cutting and planting out trees is fundamentally wrong," said the organizers of the rally.
On the territory there are 87 trees, and it is planned that part of them are planted out and the rest is cut. Experts believe that there is no sense in planting out trees, because they will die in different environment and in fact, according to the former City Mayor David Narmania, in 2016, the same project was stopped exactly because of the potential threat to the 87 trees.
According to Kaladze, project also has dendrological dimension:
"This will be a two stage project, the first is the transport hub and the second will be the regulation of Tamarashvili street node. In addition, about 140 trees will be planted within the dendrological project. We will do everything to plant out the existing trees from the territory. We have appropriate equipment for this,"said Kakha Kaladze.
The 140 trees Kaladze plans on planting will need around 30 years to perform a full-grown tree functions. Another crucial argument of those opposing the project is that there have been done no researches and studies in order to identify a real necessity of the project’s implementation.
No study has indicated whether the project will impact or solve the traffic jam problems, nor whether it will create new serious long-term damage. The only fact at hands is that during the next fives months there will be long traffic jams in Saburtalo district.