This Paris Life

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No more cars along the north quay of the Seine?

If the Paris Mayor has her way, the quay on the right bank of the Seine will be closed to cars starting in summer 2016. The pedestrian-only bank will feature a public park, farmer’s market, and other dockside activities. A tramline may also be in the works, crossing Paris from east to west by 2020.

In a recent interview with the Journal du Dimanche, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced her intention to pedestrianize the Georges Pompidou road beginning in the summer of 2016. The road in question is currently a car lane flanking the entire length of the inner Paris section of the river Seine on its right bank.

Mayor Hidalgo had launched a public consultation on the planned closure of this bank in May 2015. At the time, the project had two options: sealing off a short section of the road (1.5 kilometers) or a longer section of 3.3 kilometers. Six months later, the longer of the two sections has been selected for closure. Hidalgo was scheduled to present the idea at the city council on October 26th.

If approved, traffic will no longer be allowed to run between the Tuileries tunnel (1st arrondissement) and the Arsenal port (4th) as of 2016. Instead, the bank will be converted into an “11 acre vegetated walkway on the edge of the water” providing Parisians with “a new breathing space to walk and relax in.” She also plans for a riverside tavern, co-working space and floating organic market to adorn the refurbished bank.

The cost of this operation is valued at the modest sum of eight million euros, due to the fact that this particular section of the riverbank was previously renovated in 2012 along with the Tuileries tunnel.

A press release from the opposition party, The Republicans, criticized the initiative in light of it disrupting traffic in the capital. Their counter-project proposes to pedestrianize the upper levels of the bank and leave the lower road to traffic, but according to Hidalgo this is a “wacky idea” that would cost “at least 60 million euros” whereby “leaning on the parapet from the raised platforms, passers-by would watch the cars go by below.”

This planned closure comes four years after the left bank being similarly sealed off and decked with artwork, sporting paraphernalia and deckchairs — along with floating gardens — for the enjoyment of Paris residents and visitors last summer.

A new tramline is also part of the plan, its route following the Seine and linking the east and west of the capital. Hidalgo has assured that this new proposed transport system — an innovative tram without tracks or overhead lines — would not require major infrastructural works and would involve limited costs. She believes it could thus be in service by 2020, despite the fact that the particular bus-tram hybrid she has in mind does not yet exist on the market. The project is currently under consideration by the city, transport services and police department.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Coyau

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