Sign and Share the Petition

CLICK TO SIGN THE PETITION

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It’s been nearly a year since the petition against the Fouad Boutros highway was launched. It gained 3000 signatures in a few weeks and contributed to the general outcry against this insane project.

Since then, the campaign has made some very good progress. The project has been dramatically slowed down, the Municipality of Beirut and CDR were obliged to ask for an independent Environmental Impact Study and much of the technical, financial, legal and administrative mechanisms are today frozen. We found support in unlikely places, even within various ministries and state institutions.

But we are never safe from a negative change of turns and we must remain vigilant. Our team, the Civil Coalition Against the Fouad Boutros Project, keeps working, sometimes silently, sometimes publicly, always ready to react to any wrong action or decision.

But the support of the general public, of you citizens and city dwellers, remains a pilar of our fight. This is why we are re-launching this petition, in order to show that popular refusal of the Fouad Boutros Highway has not diminised.

So please, SIGN AND KEEP SHARING THIS PETITION

Thank you.

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The failed highways of the CDR

All of the highways built post-war by the Council for Development and Reconstrution (CDR) are today yet again completely flooded, without any proper water evacuation.

The CDR is incapable of building proper highways. With this level of incompetence, how can the CDR be trusted to produce strategies and policies? How can the CDR be trusted when they say the Fouad Boutros highway is necessary?

The CDR and Municipality want to convince us that the Fouad Boutros highway is virtuous and that the tens of world-renowned urban experts who oppose it are wrong – and yet are incapable of producing one decent infrastructure.

Their highway designs are flawed, their strategies are flawed, any plan for more highways is flawed, the Fouad Boutros highway is flawed and defunct!

CyberAman

The airport dropoff, flooded – Courtesy of CyberAman (twitter)

Joumana Haidar

The Khaldeh highway, flooded – Courtesy of Joumana Haidar (twitter)

Lorient-HishDaou

The Airport tunnel, flooded – Courtesy of HishDaou (Twitter)

Techknowledgic

The Zalka highway, flooded – Courtesy of Techknowledgic (twitter)

Press Conference at the Tobagi Garden – 26/08/2014

Full video of the press conference which took place at the Tobagi Garden on the 26th of August 2014. This even was part of an ongoing public awareness campaign to inform citizens, stakeholders and the media about the status of the “Fouad Boutros” highway project that is planned to cut across Mar Mkhayel and Hekmeh areas, to chart out ways to counter it and to present the need for alternative projects and new transportation policies.

2:55
Jihad Kiame/ Architect– Urban Planner
Urban planning overview and launch of the “Group Declaration” signed by experts

35:10
Antoine Atallah / Architect – Urban Designer
Presentation and launch of the website against “Fouad Boutros” Highway Project

54:50
Raja Noujaim / legal & administrative officer – Quantity Surveyor & Quality controller
Description and assessment of the project / Alternatives to the project

Mohammad Ayoub / Executive Director of “NAHNOO”
Facilitator

Bus stop or garbage bin?

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Bus stop of garbage bin? (Courtesy of Jihad Kiame)

This is the scandalous state of bus stops in Sin el-Fil. Greater Beirut municipalities and the CDR have no policy for public transportation : only neglect. This is the outcome of blind privatization and abdication of public responsibility. The municipalities are good at lip service and grand posturing about future projects, but in reality, this is the status of their accomplishments.

As a result, the use of public transporation in Greater Beirut went from 8% of trips in 1999, to 2% of trips in 2011. (Agence Française de Développement)

There are clearly other priorities than building yet another highway.

New roads are not always the solution

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A set of two conferences took place this week under the title “Towards a Roadmap for Sustainable cities in the MENA Region”. At AUB, a panel of experts debated “Which sustainable transportation or smart mobility concepts for the MENa countries?

Composed of Johnny Ojeil, from ARUP, Tarek Rakha, PhD candidate at MIT and Hans-Ulrich Fuhrke, consultant and project director for sustainable urban transport, the panel discussed (among other things) the necessity of public transport V/S new roads and highways.

Some interesting observations were :

  • A 1% increase in the effectiveness of the infrastructure would have 7 times larger impacts on the economic growth than 1% investment in the [construction of new] infrastructure
  • Wider economic benefits can be achieved by shifting users more efficiently between existing infrastructures
  • Investing in alternative modes of transport results in more benefits than expending highways to reduce congestion

What more must be said for the Municipality of Beirut and the CDR to understand they need to change their all-car policies? What more must be done for them to understand that the tens of millions of dollars of public money that would be spent on the Foud Boutros highway, would be much more useful and benefitial for the city if they were spent on the optimisation of the existing infrastructure and on public transport systems?


A summary of the conferences can be found here (in french) :
Repenser sa ville pour réinventer son avenir

« Ces leaders doivent avoir le courage d’aller au-delà des problèmes quotidiens pour initier une véritable révolution, sans se laisser intimider par les groupes d’intérêts. Il faut s’assurer que l’approche envisagée est globale, ajoute-t-il. Si on se limite à une approche sectorielle, les solutions resteront lacunaires. Cette approche intégrée est plus efficace qu’une série de solutions qui peuvent se révéler contradictoires.”
Nicola Da Schio, Specialiste en environnement urbain, Science Po Paris

« Il faut tout d’abord un transport public décent, efficace, ponctuel et peu polluant. Il serait utile de rendre l’entrée des voitures individuelles dans la ville plus difficile. Beaucoup de zones seraient favorisées si elles devenaient piétonnes, notamment les centres-villes.”
Nadim Farjallah, directeur de recherche, Institut Issam Fares


It would have been great to hear Dr. Bilal Hamad, mayor of Beirut, teacher at AUB, or Elie Helou, project manager at the CDR, defend in front of such a panel an obsolete highway cutting right through the existing fabric of central Beirut…

Hashim Sarkis named dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning

Hashim Sarkis — a prominent scholar of architecture and urbanism, a practicing architect whose works have been built in the United States and the Middle East, and a leading expert on design in the Middle East — has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), effective in January…. Read more


Hashim Sarkis has been a supporter and major contributor of the Civil Coalition, writing several articles defying the highway project, and in support of urban planning alternatives :

The bridge to a better Beirut

Beirut chooses History over highway

Hashim Sarkis also co-wrote and signed Declaration of Experts opposed to the highway project :

The Declaration of Experts


Let’s put this in perspective with the way Bilal Hamad, mayor of Beirut, described the Coalition : as ignorants, loudmouthsliars, romantics with long hair and dishonnest propagandists. 

Quite ironic, coming from the chief of a municipality that never was able to produce a single study or assessment able to prove the need, the feasibility or the advantages of the Fouad Boutros highway.

Trying to discredit the Civil Coalition simply does not work and this website is here to assert and reassert the well founded, credible and knowledge-based arguments of our mobilisation.

Fight builds for Beirut’s cultural heritage – Al Jazeera

Beirut, Lebanon – As the municipality moves ahead with a long-awaited road project that will cut through the heart of several Beirut neighbourhoods, civil society groups are decrying the project as outmoded and potentially destructive to the city’s cultural heritage.

“We have to take this project out of the municipality’s agenda,” said architect and urban planner Jihad Kiame, who alleges the proposed highway will demolish a historic orchard and dozens of properties, devastating the architectural remnants of a neighbourhood in east Beirut known as Hikmeh

The Beirut municipality’s Fouad Boutros project is the latest manifestation of the “Hikmeh-Turk” axis plan. Devised in the 1950s to provide a link for motorists from the main avenues of … Read more