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Brosse Street Journal » Features:

Traffic Triangle Troubles

By Elene Dobordjginidze
Brosse Street Journal
Wednesday, January 26 2005
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Tbilisi officials spent 30,000 lari ($15,000) to create the Traffic Triangle, new rules of traffic movement in Tbilisi. However, they started discussing the faults of the project just two weeks after it went into effect.

The Traffic Triangle of Varaziskhevi-Melikishvili-Kostava was introduced on September 18 to handle the booming traffic in the city. It was designed as an attempt to control 300,000 cars and more then 20,000 marshrutkas that, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, move about the capital. The purpose was to decrease the density of passenger vehicle traffic across Varaziskhevi Ascend, and Melikishvili and Kostava streets.

According to Temur Kurkhuli, First Deputy of the City Premier, initiators of the project were the City Transport Service of the Tbilisi Municipality and Patrol Police. The money for its realization was allotted from the State Budget.

Zurab Chiaberashvili, Mayor of Tbilisi, said that further measures might be needed to deal with the traffic along the Triangle. Chiaberashvili even suggested removing the trolleybus lines from this area. However, he added that there are traffic jams in any big city and Tbilisi is no exception.

The traffic movement on the three streets of Varaziskhevi-Melikishvili-Kostava was two-way before. The Triangle changed it into one-way. However, this adjustment did not solve the traffic density problem in the city.

Tariel Alavidze from the City Transport Service of the Tbilisi Municipality said that although he favors the concept of the traffic change, he considers it far from perfect.

"Some relief regarding the traffic density is evident. Nevertheless, there are some blunders that should be eliminated -- for instance, regarding parking and reorganizing trolleybus stops," he said.

Merab Shalvadze, chief engineer of the Department of Organization of Public Services and Amenities at Tbilisi Municipality, said he could not comment on the effectiveness of the triangle design and planning as his department was only in charge of setting up the concrete curbs needed to separate traffic movement lanes.

Although Chiaberashvili fired two city architects recently, the spokesman in his office said that their dismissal had nothing to do with the Traffic Triangle.

Whatever the views of the city officials, the Traffic Triangle has caused much controversy among citizens. Some residents of Tbilisi claim that instead of relieving the crowded traffic in the Varaziskhevi-Melikishvili-Kostava area, the Triangle has created more traffic jams and caused inconvenience both for drivers and passengers using public transport.

In the view of dissatisfied citizens, it has turned into the Bermuda Triangle, a trap in which the drivers and passengers get caught. It takes them more time and effort to make their way through traffic jams, especially during the rush hours.

In the opinion of Zaza Mamaladze, director of the Folklore Theatre, who drives his car every day through the Triangle to get to work on Rustaveli Avenue, the Traffic Triangle was not the solution to the problem for drivers.

"Nothing can be done with improving traffic movement in Tbilisi, unless the number of marshrutkas in the city is decreased. Another way out will be the ban of parking along this area," he said.

According to Izolda Zviadadze, head of the Personnel Department of the State Department of Georgian Motorways, the Traffic Triangle added troubles for her transportation about the city.

"I thought this would unload the traffic in Tbilisi, but it happened the other way. Now it takes me more time to get to the destination point," she said.

Malkhaz Topuria is the driver of a #4 marshrutka, which travels to Vake district. Topuria said he does not support idea of the Triangle either.

"I have to drive far out of my way and get stuck in Kostava Street traffic jams to get to Vake," he said.

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