The profound disruption of an enclaved neighborhood
Such a large infrastructure as the Fouad Boutros highway will have an enormous impact on the character, the identity and the quality of the neighborhoods it will pass through. As seen before, it is composed of small streets, stairways and alleys, small houses and gardens and enjoys a “village-like” atmosphere.
The Hekmeh neighborhood is surrounded by busy and noisy streets, such as Charles Malek avenu, Akkaoui street and Armenia street. However it is enclaved between them, and is not crossed by any busy or fast road. It is preserved from the city noise, traffic and bustle, which makes it a sleepy area, calm and soft paced, contributing to its “village-like” identity.
The Fouad Boutros highway will completely destroy the character and quality of the neighborhood. It will break through it, disrupt and destroy the existing fabric, will create yet another rupture in the street network. The highway which is enormously disproportionate compared to the existing street network, will completely destroy the existing dynamics of the neighborhood. The new highway will bring in cars, noise, pollution and will take away, violently and permanently, the calmness that caracterized the Hekmeh neighborhood. Cars will flow, fast paced, along the highway, but will also converge from surrounding streets that connect to it. This will cause traffic congestion on all the main streets of the neighborhood, which will literally choke.
The dismembering the local car and pedestrian circulation
Not only will the highway induce an increase of traffic congestion within the Hekmeh neighborhood, but it will also completely disrupt and dismember the local car traffic, in the Hekmeh neighborhood but also around Charles Malek avenue.
The infrastructures of the highway, mainly the slopes descending into the tunnels, will cut existing car itineraries. Often, it will not be possible anymore to cross from one part to another of the same street, as existing crossroads will be replaced by the obstacle of the descending slopes. Particularly worrying, is the fact that it will be impossible to circulate between the eastern and the western part of Mar Mitr street, which is a very important axis, parallel to Charles Malek avenue.
In other parts, streets that were cotinuous will be interrupted. Though it will still be possible to cross, car circulation will become more complicated and will necessitate going through U-turns or round-abouts.
Pedestrian itineraries will be fragmented and will become excessively complicated. Again, the main cause of this are the descending slopes leading to the tunnels. Because of them, the whole Hekmeh neighborhood will become dificult to access by foot. And whithin the neighborhood, pedestrian flows will become longers, less natural, facing more obstacles
In particular, accessing the Collège de la Sagesse and the Maronite Archbishopric will become very complicated. The Maronite campus will in this way become excessively isolated and enclaved. Along 500m, it will not be possible to cross the Charles Malek avenue more than once. Something that will also be very detrimental, not only for the archbishopric and the school, but also to the businesses and restaurants established on Charles Malek avenue.
Along 400m, it will be impossible or extremely difficult and dangerous to cross the new Fouad Boutros highway, something that will be most problematic for pedestrians walking along Charles Malek avenue and Mar Mitr street. Two very important streets.
Worth noting is the case of the existing Fouad Boutros street, which will be replaced by the highway north of Armenia street. There, there won’t be any possible pedestrian crossing along the entire length of the street.