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French Version


Beirut slated for traffic control revamp

$32 million project planned to upgrade vehicle flow management and increase parking capacity.

In a project funded by the World Bank and supervised by the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), 150 traffic lights are to be installed in Greater Beirut starting October 2005.

According to a CDR source, the Urban Transport Development Project will cost around $32 million dollars and will also provide the city with several other much-needed new services.
"Sidewalks will also be properly fixed, the runways will be asphalted, cameras will be installed on traffic lights and a traffic control building will be constructed," the source said, adding that "actual construction is expected to begin in October in the main Beirut district."

The World Bank Web site says the Urban Transport Development Project will help to improve traffic management, and increase capacity for parking along seven highly congested roads.

"The loan will also provide technical assistance to the Public Works and Transport Ministry for capacity-building, transport planning, and public transport regulation, air quality management and transportation feasibility studies," the Web site read, adding that "it will also provide resources for overall management of the project."

Traffic Engineer and Youth Association for Social Awareness (YASA) activist Clovis Abi Nader said that the traffic lights currently installed in Lebanon did not meet the current traffic needs.

"The traffic lights currently installed are not properly checked, followed-up and evaluated," Abi Nader said, "not to mention that most of them feature an extremely improper alternation of lights."

Abi Nader explained that, for instance, a red light should be a one-minute pause. "On some intersections, a red light is sometimes three minutes long, which obviously pushes people to violate it," he said.

Moreover, he said, traffic lights should be properly enforced with police patrols to penalize those who violate the signal system.

"I think in this country, policemen are more efficient than cameras," Clovis said, "because by the time the penalty ticket reaches the violator, he would've violated the traffic light more than 1000 times a month, while a policeman can just arrest him on the spot."

Mona Akl, head of YASA Lebanon, said that according to a recent survey done by the Scientific Research Foundation, most traffic and pedestrian injuries occur at intersections even when equipped with traffic lights.

"This is due to the fact that traffic lights in Lebanon are not truly respected," Akl said, "but the upcoming project is definitely going to have its own awareness campaign."

Beirut 09-08-2005
Jessy Chahine
The Daily Star



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