Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018

Grumbles and confusion follow Roman Forum revolution


Rome, August 5 - Controversy continued to swirl
Monday around changes to traffic patterns designed to protect
Rome's iconic Colosseum and turn much of a main artery into a
pedestrian zone.
After a Saturday night celebration of the new urban plan on
the closed street near the historic Forum and Colosseum, many
motorists were frustrated Monday morning at the new traffic
But tourists seemed pleased to walk in the shadow of the
Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, enjoying
fresher air and less smog.
"It's a beautiful idea," said one, taking shelter from the
blazing hot August sun beneath an umbrella.
However, that sentiment came in contrast to complaints from
drivers, said traffic cops, adding that motorists will need
time to adjust to the new system.
Some merchants, who fear the traffic patterns will hurt
their businesses, are planning to block traffic on the nearby
busy via Merulana in protest on Sept. 14.
"We are very concerned about what is happening," said Maria
Grazia Panella, the owner of a popular bakery on Merulana.
She said business has already dropped by at least 25%
compared with the same period last year, adding that the mayor
is ignoring merchants' concerns.
Closing the Via dei Fori Imperiali was the idea of Rome's
new mayor, Ignazio Marino, who says it is necessary to protect
the environment and the historic structures in ancient Rome,
including the Colosseum with is almost 2,000 years old.
Marino has claimed that 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
However, closing the street has meant more traffic and
parking snarls on other roadways in the area.
At a gas station near the intersection of Via Cavour and
the closed street, a pump attendant said that changing traffic
patterns is bad for business.
No one came for gas on the street Monday morning, he said.
"If this continues, I will go bankrupt".
In fact, Marino - whose program 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.

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