Paris' Georges Pompidou expressway to be pedestrianised

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Traffic will no longer circulate along one side of Paris' Seine River, the city council announced yesterday.

The Georges Pompidou expressway, which runs along the right-hand bank of the iconic waterway, will become completely pedestrianised. Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo claims the move will help to 'end Paris' urban motorway and reconquer the Seine'.

The expressway stretches for two miles from the Tuileries tunnel past the Louvre to the Arsenal Basin at Bastille. It is usually closed from mid-July to mid-August, but outside of these months can see as many as 43,000 cars each day.

A similar stretch on the opposite bank was closed for good three years ago, and the Georges Pompidou expressway has been kept closed this autumn in anticipation of this decision. Fifty-five per cent of the city's 2.2million residents are in favour of the closure.

However, fears have been raised by conservative opposition that this move will increase traffic and pollution in the centre of the city. These concerns have already been realised with traffic in surrounding streets rising by 73 per cent since the road has remained closed.

Valérie Pécresse, president of the Île-de-France, the Paris region council, has vowed to overturn the plan. She claims that it will create difficultly in moving around the area, especially for businessmen who have to drive through the inner city daily.

The expressway will become a pedestrian walkway with shrubs and cafés, however Hidalgo has agreed to review the impact after six months and allow traffic to return if it has caused a large disruption.

Paris' deputy mayor in charge of transport, Christophe Najdovski, supported Hidalgo's decision, claiming that road closures usually led to traffic 'evaporating' as commuters turn to public transport.

Since traffic reducing measures began in 2001, Parisian vehicle ownership has decreased from 60 to 40 per cent.