Notes From Hairenik
June 25, 2007
It is no secret that there has been a sharp upsurge in the number of vehicles on the roads throughout Yerevan, as I have written in previous posts and has been reported by online news sources. There are cars everywhere: luxury and matchboxes, designer SUVs and Soviet jeeps, Russian compacts and Japanese subcompacts, and even 70s-80s era General Motors gas guzzlers. Mounting traffic coupled with oblivious jaywalkers crossing wherever they please give rise to a chaotic jamboree. Nevertheless, it was all tolerable until Yerevan authorities decided to block main avenues throughout Central Yerevan from access by vehicle traffic.

Someone in Yerevan's city hall evidently came up with the bright idea to simultaneously close off three streets which are major access routes. Within the span of one week the block on Nalbandyan Street stretching between Moscovyan and Charents Streets was indefinitely closed. There is a long tin fence separating the construction site from traffic and it continues into the park, so I cannot guess what is transpiring there. Just down the street from me, the Vartanants and Khanjian intersection where the construction of a new Russian financed luxury condominium project (where the "film house" used to be) has also been fenced off. I noticed the other day when walking on the sidewalk there, which thankfully is still open, that a work trailer was on site, which means that construction will go on for a very long time, but again, what they're doing there is not yet known to me.

Gomidas Avenue is still a mess despite nearly two years having passed since the start of a major project involving the replacement of water and sewerage pipes with the simultaneous removal of tram rails (under which the pipes conveniently reside). The lower part of Gomidas Avenue as well as Gassian Street as it joins with Friendship Square (Baregamutiun) seem to be complete. Construction engineers have only now reached the stretch on which the Gomidas open market is found, which is arguably one of the busiest areas in the entire city. Purportedly there is a rush to remove the remaining rails since the iron is needed for various construction sites--according to rumor tram rails, which are not malleable, support the frames of some newly built high-rise cement buildings. So a long, dusty summer (mostly likely autumn and winter, too) can be expected in the area.

The most troubling construction is underway in a part of town known as "Rassia," where the Cinema Russia-turned-shopping mall is located. At that location, where Khanjian and Tigran Mets streets intersect, purportedly a mini-tunnel project is underway which will apparently help to reduce traffic congestion in the area. Hundreds of minibuses stop there on all four corners throughout each day, and routinely minibus drivers double-park to take on passengers. The stretch spanning from the intersection to Khorenatsi Street along Khanjian is completely closed, and thus the Gyumri/Vanadzor bus station which formerly occupied the parking lot of Cinema Russia has been relocated not far away. Tigran Mets street eventually crosses into the Erebuni district while Khanjian merges with Arshakunyants Street, which leads into Shengavit and eventually out of the city. Thus one thoroughfare (for now) is being carelessly impeded.

According to my auto-mechanic whose garage is located just beside the nearby circus, the word is that work will continue for at least two years there. The project is financed by the government without foreign assistance, and thus there is no room for skimming off the top as Armenians are infamous for doing on any construction job. But I find that hard to believe. I also doubt that construction will finish in two years, especially when he told me that the government does not have all the dedicated funds set aside for the project. The Northern Boulevard should have been completed this year and considering that only two buildings have been erected thus far, Yerevan motorists have a merciless wait when trying to get anywhere around or out of the city.

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Blogger Ara said...
I was stuck in traffic for almost an hour. After being at a stand-still for almost 20 minutes I made a u-turn and went home. I later learned that the street was closed off with no signs around the indicate this.