Notes From Hairenik
October 3, 2007

I write this post in response to Onnik Krikorian’s entry that was published two days ago in which he discusses the lunacy in drivers’ minds as they drove up the basalt steps through a park rather than spend another five minutes in travel time to go around the block. He writes:

Ludicrous. Absolutely plain stupid and one that can only surprise even in a county full of idiotic urban planning and municipal development decisions. You have to look at the story if only for the photos and video. This city is controlled and run by retards and imbeciles. Unfortunately, one response to this story from a friend was simply that city is also inhabited by idiots too. The roads are certainly full of them.

I must concur with Onnik’s deductions as I have often written about such issues in previous posts. Yet I should add that I am rather disappointed by all the construction going around causing such absurd scenarios to take place. Many of these projects, some of them taking shape in residential neighborhoods, are unnecessary and they will prove to be disasters rather than undertakings to alleviate the plight of pedestrians and motorists traveling through the city.

One insane project is underway at the intersection of Khanjian and Vartanants Streets, the location of the incident mentioned above, where a tunnel is being built to travel under Khanjian Street and the circle park there to emerge at the Alex Manoukian and Vartanants intersection. The entry to the tunnel is flanked by apartment buildings and thus kids darting about who need to go to school and so forth. They have to cross the street and often jaywalk since they have been reared to do so by their parents. When motorists driving too fast through the tunnel come close to or hit pedestrians problems will rise, not decline. The aesthetics of the neighborhood will change for the worse, and I will argue that nothing will have been done to curb traffic congestion—on the contrary it will only worsen at an intersection that only saw minor traffic jams when minibuses pile up at adjacent bus stops. It will not be possible to turn right onto Khanjian it seems judging from what I saw the other night while walking past the site, so traffic will need to be diverted, a quagmire that did not exist before.

The bridge already being erected at Paregamutiun Square will also reveal its ugly head as being an utterly ill-planned fiasco. Again, traffic could be deterred at the intersection by enforcing that minibuses only stop at designated stops rather than arbitrary, passenger-determined spots. The intersection was chiefly hampered by faulty traffic lights which were barely visible even when working. Even impatient drivers rolling their vehicles halfway into the intersection while supposedly waiting for a red light to change were not necessarily obstructions to the free-flow of traffic. The bridge will undermine the grandness and purpose of the square that was cleverly designed and accommodated traffic fairly well in my opinion.

But the word on the street is that the true reason for the construction is simply a way for the Yerevan authorities as well as Armenian government officials to make money by skimming off the top of allocated construction budgets or by “laundering” money in some unclear fashion, which means that the quality of the construction projects will be dubious and more than likely unsound.

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Blogger nazarian said...
Where in the Barkamutyun Square are they building a bridge? Is it an overpass from Komitas to Baghramian?

The Yerevan authorities need to do a little bit of study in urban development. They follow the same ill conceived methods as the American planners. That is, building more roads is not going to alleviate any of the problems. Within a decade or so, you will be facing the same exact problem. The road construction in the USA is done for political reasons - it's essentially a pork barrel spending. I suspect the same is true for Yerevan.

The key to traffic congestion, rather, is to manage the existing infrastructure more effectively and identify and reduce the bottlenecks. But that requires knowledge and imagination.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
So as you drive up Baghramian towards Paregamutiun, when you approach the square you will drive over a bridge which will presumably stop at the foot of Gassian Street. I don't know how drivers will make a right onto Kochar Street or whether turning left onto Kievyan Street will be possible.

I am hoping that someone in their right mind who understands urban planning will step in and convince the powers at be to stop this project from continuing. It is a totally absurd project and an unfortunate waste of money.