Notes From Hairenik
February 10, 2009

On Friday morning after I started my car I noticed that my gasoline tank was almost empty so I obviously had no choice but to find a nearby station. But I needed it to be on my way to work so my commute time wouldn’t be unnecessarily stretched. From Vartanantz Street I turned right onto Nalbandyan at Sakharov Square and made my way north. I would have continued to the end at the intersection with Charents Street but left turns there are no longer permitted. They failed to install a traffic light there after the construction was completed which would make life much easier for motorists. A new road connects that area to Khanjian Street, only a few blocks away. My goal was to continue north along Mkitar Heratsi Street where there are a few gasoline stations on the right. Click here to follow along.

The only way I could think of getting there was to take a left on Moscovyan, a right on Abovyan, and a right on Koryun, which turns into Charents just after the intersection with Mkitar Heratsi Street and where I would make a left turn. When I arrived there I understood that a left turn is incomprehensibly no longer permissible. There was no other choice for me but to drive along Charents for a half mile and then make a U-turn when there was a break in oncoming traffic. This was technically illegal since you can only make a U-turn if there is a sign hanging across wires in the middle of the street, which was absent.  I was successfully able to stay right on Mkitar Heratsi Street (which turns into Miasnikian Avenue after driving under the bridge) and pulled up at a gasoline station fairly successfully. My next plan was to continue northward and make the next available left to pass through the Abovyan Street rotary and up “Monument” Road. No such luck, because the traffic light where I needed to turn was deactivated. I was compelled to continue northward along Miasnikian Avenue, hoping that a place to make a U-turn would come up within an eighth of a mile as was the case during construction of yet another pointless 50-foot long tunnel. The ability to do so has also been voided. Suddenly I realized that I could have taken an alternative route to Monument that was completed a month ago, but I had already passed the exit, which was on my immediate right.

For those who are not very familiar with Yerevan, Miasnikian Avenue is a six-lane highway, although the lane markers have long-ago faded (which is usually the case about a month after they are freshly painted). There are no left turns or U-turns permitted for that matter since the two sides of the road are separated by a continuous barrier. So I had to drive about three miles north and then bear right at the fork heading towards Nor Nork. In that area there is sort of an elevated rotary incorporating two bridges, so I figured I would be able to keep left at the exit and go around towards Kanaker-Zeitun, then eventually end up on Gomitas Street to head to work. Naturally, there is a solid line where it was possible to bear left to accomplish what I had in mind, but I crossed it anyway as I had no other choice. I had to go to work, and I wasn’t about to drive another quarter of a mile to find an intersection where I could perhaps manage to make a U-turn and proceed in the reverse direction. Then I trekked through Zeitun and onwards towards the vicinity of the open market on Gomidas where the office building in which I work is located.

After I parked my car and started walking to the office it dawned on me that left turns at many key intersections where they were once allowed in the city had become impermissable. A left onto Tigran Mets from Hanrabedutyan Street is illegal, and unless something has changed after the construction of a tunnel there a left onto Khanjian at the intersection with Tigran Mets is also forbidden. 

Miasnikian Avenue which connects the center with Nor Nork and Avan is also a major travel route to points north. But as I point out it’s not possible to access the road by taking a left onto Mkitar Heratsi Street. You would have to approach the road on Charents and make a right or use the new road which connects to Khanjian, if you can even manage to enter the Koryun-Mkitar Heratsi tunnel. It’s is no longer possible to turn left onto Khanjian from any road traveling east in the city’s center. You would otherwise have to drive south through Republic Square and down Vasken Sargsyan Street, then pass through Russia Square (beside City Hall) and make a U-turn with the goal of making a right on Krikor Luysavorich Street, a still-available left at the Circus intersection, and then onwards through the tunnel onto Khanjian. Running alongside it there is a newly paved road that cuts through some former green space before linking up with the Koryun-Mkitar Heratsi tunnel. To drive along that road you need to enter the short Khanjian tunnel.

To emphasize my point, there has never been the ability for some bizarre reason to travel south along Mashdots through what is now known as Place de France adjacent to the Opera House, so a left onto Sayat Nova is also not permitted. If you instead turn right onto Moscovyan Street and pass the Cascade area you cannot turn left onto Baghramyan and continue through Place de France, so you have to drive another eighth of a mile to the intersection at Tumanyan where a left turn is permitted. Then you can make a right onto Mashdots at the next traffic light to continue along your way. A left onto Sayat Nova from Deryan Street is also impermissible; nevertheless you can take a left at the next intersection onto Tumanyan or the one before at Moscovyan. The traffic light at Orbeli Street and Baghramyan, which was a short cut to the Kievyan Bridge and Ajapenyak, has been removed because it interfered with yet another totally unnecessary mini-tunnel that was dug there. And as far as I am aware, a left under Paregamutyun Bridge onto Kievyan is only allowed for buses, as was the case before the bridge was erected over a year ago. In other words, you can’t meet Kievyan at all while traveling north on Baghramyan.

Obviously I’m not saying that all left turns in Yerevan are outlawed. It’s just that they are prohibited where they shouldn’t be, making the commute through town extremely difficult.

Perhaps the most illogical decision made while planning the new routes though the center was the cessation of being able to turn left onto Khanjian Street from points eastbound (or left onto Vartanants or Tumanyan from Khanjian). It may have been an oversight rather than part of a grand solution, but it demonstrates in any case severe incompetence on the city planner’s part. The consequential sacrifices for commuting progress at the Koryun-Mkitar Heratsi intersection and through the circular park are also absurd. But these are perfect examples of Armenian logic at play (see here, here, and here for case scenarios), something to which I have yet to adjust. And most likely I never will.

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