Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Traffic ban changes patterns around Rome's iconic Colosseum

Rome, August 3 - A major artery running through
Rome's historic centre alongside its iconic Colosseum was closed
to almost all traffic Saturday, amid heated debate under a
scorching August summer sky.
Pedestrians took over most of the normally congested and
chaotic Via dei Fori Imperiali, as Mayor Ignazio Marino claimed
his plan will reduce vehicle traffic by 90% and eliminate some
of the pollution and harmful vibrations caused by the steady
flow of automobiles.
Bicycles, pedestrians, emergency vehicles, buses and taxis
are to be the only traffic allowed on the multi-lane street that
runs through a major archeological area, stretching from the
Colosseum, past the ancient Roman Forum to the central Piazza
Venezia.
"Thanks to this pedestrianization project, Via dei Fori
Imperiali will become the most stunningly beautiful boulevard in
the world," the City of Rome claims on its project website.
"Here is where it all started, and, here, today's Rome is
reborn".
The route, built by Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, was
significantly quieted, as motorists were alerted to the new
restrictions by traffic signs installed earlier in the week.
Still, some aggravated motorists complained they did not
see any signs and were confused by the new routing.
"It's a mess, I don't understand anything," of where
motorists are now supposed to drive, said one.
To mark the revolution in Roman traffic, stages were
erected for a 'Notte dei Fori' (Forum Night), an evening of
shows and concerts Saturday to celebrate the artery's urban
rebirth.
Then, beginning at 19:00 on Sunday, public transportation,
taxis and emergency vehicles were to be allowed back onto the
part of road closest to the Colosseum while the ban continued on
private vehicles.
Drastically limiting traffic, said the mayor, is crucial to
preventing further damage to the Colosseum, or Flavian
Amphitheatre, which is close to 2,000 years old and feeling its
age.
Construction began in 72 AD on the monument, which is
considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and
engineering.
Its preservation is a far more pressing concern, the mayor
suggested, than complaints of inconvenience from some local
merchants and impatient drivers.
"Today is the beginning of a dream," said Marino, a
58-year-old transplant surgeon who travels frequently by
bicycle.
"I believe we have a responsibility to keep the richness of
history for the entire human kind - it is more important than a
shortcut," Marino added in an interview broadcast Saturday by
the BBC.
In fact, Marino - whose plan has captured headlines
internationally - has also declared that his current plans to
protect the zone from motor vehicles may not go far enough.
''I am dreaming of arriving at the total pedestrianization
of the Roman Forum during my administration,'' Marino has said,
adding that extending a metro line would be key to the plan, in
order to offer Romans alternative public transport to buses
along that stretch of road.
Marino has suggested he wants to eventually crack through
the existing pavement to open new archeological digs.
His office is also aiming to establish an office in
Brussels to look for European Union funds needed to begin
archeological digs in Via dei Fori Imperiali.
The dramatic change in traffic patterns was as
controversial as a 25-million euro restoration project, given
the green light only days earlier, on the ancient Colosseum
itself.
Management at the monument have said work would begin
immediately after an administrative court rejected the final
appeal by consumer group Codacons against restoration funding by
Diego Della Valle, owner of the luxury shoe brand Tod''s.
Codacons had long complained that the bidding process that
gave the contract to Tod's was not properly conducted, was too
secretive, and may have given the company too many concessions.
Cleaning and restoration of external surfaces of the
Colosseum is planned, to deal with damage wrought by pollution
and decades of weather systems.
It's expected that 10 arches at a time will be covered in
scaffolding for recovery work.
The Roman superintendency of archaeology already began work
in January to create a safety zone around the ancient Roman
arena to prevent injuries from possible falling materials.

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