Latest Solution for City Congestion: Go Underground

Latest Solution for City  Congestion: Go UndergroundLatest Solution for City  Congestion: Go Underground

Land paucity is a pressing issue in the ever-expanding Tehran metropolis. Lack of space for the burgeoning population along with the growing number of private vehicles and the construction boom, has led to congested neighborhoods, traffic exhaustion and major environmental concerns.

The problem has prompted urban planners and city managers to think of a new strategy to salvage cityites  by going underground.

Mounting pressure of population growth particularly with regard to the over exploitation of natural resources and the quality of life in urban areas, sparked the idea of making use of underground spaces, says an article in the Persian language daily ‘Donyay-e-Eghtesad,’ a sister publication of the Financial Tribune.

If the plan is implemented, Tehran will have a mini city beneath it.

In January 2014, a four-way pedestrian walkway was constructed underground at the intersection of Enqelab and Valiasr streets, one of Tehran’s busiest junctions, where more than 15,000 pedestrians and over 6,000 cars traverse per hour.

The areas surveyed and identified for the new-fangled proposal include 7-Tir Square, Enqelab Square and Street, Argentina Square, and Tehran Grand Bazaar as well as Azadi and Rah Ahan squares downtown, and Tajrish Square in northern Tehran.

Topping the priority list is 7-Tir Square which daily sees high congestion of pedestrians as well as cars, and is one of the city’s most popular destinations, located in Tehran’s central business district.

There are examples around the world of almost all kinds of facilities that have been created underground. The use of such space allows a facility to be built in a location where a surface facility is not possible, either because of lack of space or because building a surface facility in that location is not feasible.


“The benefits offered by underground structures are directly based on certain specific qualities of underground space,” says Ahmad Donyamali, head of the Development and Transportation Committee of the Tehran City Council.

“Many types of facilities are best placed underground because their physical presence on the surface takes up large space, for example: public utilities, storage of less-desirable materials, and car parks. For a city like Tehran with a population of nine million and more than four million cars, underground facilities would be a practical solution,” he said.

Underground spaces are able to accommodate activities which are difficult, impossible or unacceptable to locate on the surface.

“The idea is to move main squares underground, so on top we only have pedestrians, green spaces, and attractive facilities,” the councilor says. “The plan will also facilitate car-free squares at ground level.”

Council spokesperson Reza Taqipour believes the existing potential of Tehran’s underground spaces has not been fully harnessed.

“We have used the immense underground capacity to build a few subway lines, but no measures have been taken to use the space to reduce ground traffic and congestion,” he noted.

Several levels of transport facilities can be brought together underground, thus providing easy inter-connections. This will also provide protection from extreme climate.

Underground structures are naturally protected from severe weather (hurricanes, thunderstorms, and other natural phenomena), noted Ahmad Sadeqi, president of the Tehran Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization (TDMMO).

“The space allocated to metro stations are highly secured and equipped with fire extinguishing equipment, and other emergency services, and sheltered people during heavy rainfall and dust storms earlier this year,” he said.

The plan is going through preliminary revision at the Urban Planning and Development and Transportation committees of the city council.