June 09, 2011 02:13 AM
By Van Meguerditchian
The Daily Star

BEIRUT: A new bridge leading to Sin al-Fil from the Nahr al-Mott area prompted officials from the Council for Development and Reconstruction Wednesday to hold a news conference to defend the project as an improvement in the traffic situation.

Project manager Elie Helou said the new bridge, which was completed in April and leads to Sin al-Fil from the Nahr al-Mott highway near City Mall, had reduced traffic congestion in the area, defending the project against skepticism on the part of commuters.
CDR officials and engineers noted that over the last 30 years, drivers have become used to heading left toward Sin al-Fil, while under the new arrangements, they must seek out two center lanes if they wish to arrive at the same destination.

While traffic signs have been erected to inform drivers of the lanes they must use, whether they want to head for Sin al-Fil or continue in the direction of Beirut, traffic snarls continue to plague the area on a daily basis.

The CDR reminded the public that traffic from Dbayyeh toward Beirut can remain on the three fast lanes on the left, while commuters heading to Sin al-Fil should stay on the right two lanes toward the bridge.

“A third service road [of two lanes on the extreme right] was added separately from the highway … to help the commercial centers located on the seaside area,” said Helou.

Despite the signs, and earlier statements issued by the CDR, the new arrangement means that drivers seeking a Sin al-Fil “exit” are obliged to head for the center of the highway, instead of the previously familiar left or right.

Asked whether the service road that leads to City Mall could have been built elsewhere, to avoid confusion for commuters searching for the bridge to Sin al-Fil, Helou said the presence of the road was necessary and no alternative location was available.

“It’s not possible to reach the malls by another road or highway,” he said.

The debate intensified when reporters presented the CDR with accounts and the complaints of the bridge and its placement from commuters who use the highway.

In one account, commuters on their way to Beirut accidentally take the Sin al-Fil Bridge exit and then realize their mistake, as some drivers then stop and back up, becoming a safety hazard and causing traffic to backup.

The CDR also pledged to install more highway signs to help commuters.

The bridge, and other urban transportation projects, must compete with commercial development in the area, which still faces daily traffic jams as commuters flock to work in Beirut from Jounieh, Dbayyeh and Jdeideh.

Helou said the Sin al-Fil bridge project was a success, but added that finding a permanent solution to the existing traffic along the coastal highway needs additional urban planning projects, especially along the Nahr al-Mott highway area.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 09, 2011, on page 3.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2011/Jun-09/CDR-defends-new-Nahr-al-Mott-bridge-as-solution-to-traffic-jams.ashx#ixzz1OuV7YxcJ
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)