Costly and Useless

Travel & Environment Desk
The second level of Sadr Expressway opened three years ago and has become a bane for the city ever since
The expansion of Sard Expressway has failed to alleviate Tehran’s traffic and air pollution.
The expansion of Sard Expressway has failed to alleviate Tehran’s traffic and air pollution.
It’s been three years and there is still no consensus on the budget spent on the project

The construction of the second level of Sadr Expressway in Tehran has failed to deliver. In fact, it exacerbated the metropolis’ struggle with traffic congestion and air pollution.

“It contributed to an increase in traffic, air and noise pollution … a completely unscientific project,” Saeed Motessaddi, deputy for human environment at the Department of Environment, told ISNA. “From an environmental perspective, adding a second level makes absolutely no sense.”

Tehran Municipality embarked on a massive scheme years ago to convert the six-kilometer Sadr Expressway in northern Tehran into a two-level freeway, arguing that it would help alleviate traffic and air pollution.

The second level opened a little over three years ago and has become a bane for the city ever since: standstill traffic during most hours of the day has become a common sight on the expressway, worsening Tehran’s air pollution and contributing to noise pollution.

“Expressways encourage people to use their vehicles,” Motessaddi said, adding that this is counterproductive for a city trying to reduce air pollution.

“People think they can speedily reach their destination, but that’s never the case.”

The official noted that the construction of urban roads and expressways makes sense when they are well researched and managed by experts, who ensure that such structures do not add to a city’s congestion woes.

“In Tehran where development has never been managed by experts, construction of freeways just makes things worse,” he said.

Motessadi, who is a critic of the current municipality administration, said the money spent on the expressway could have been put to better user by expanding the subway network.

What’s curious about the grand project is that, three years on, nobody still knows exactly how much was spent on it.

The municipality is adamant that the project cost 6.4 trillion rials ($170 million) but has yet to provide evidence for their claim.

This is while Mohammad Haqqani, the head of Environment Committee at Tehran City Council, was quoted as saying last year by Khabaronline.ir: “I’ve seen numerous reports that put the figure anywhere between 7.5 trillion and 45 trillion rials ($200 million-$1.2 billion).”

Interestingly, in an interview with Mehr News Agency in January, Alireza Javid, deputy for construction at Tehran Municipality, said TM spent around 17 trillion rials ($453 million) on the project, roughly three times the original figure reported by the municipality!

“When you drive west in the morning and east in the evening on expressway, you find yourself in standstill traffic, which shows that the project was not studied,” Motessaddi said. “We’re now left to suffer even more traffic and more pollution.”


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