As we have seen, the Hekmeh-Turk axis (Fouad Boutros highway) does not resolve the chronic circulation problems of Eastern Beirut and will even worsen the situation. Thus, it seems evident that another solution needs to be thought of.
We here present an intervention plan that addresses and takes into consideration the entire eastern part of Beirut, contrary to the Fouad Boutros project which has been studied only as a short segment, on a scale that is too small to be valid. It is also a plan that looks for an economy of means and an efficiency of interventions, contrary to the bluntness and violence of the Fouad Boutros Project.
This plan was elaborated with the help and counseling of traffic experts.
This proposal rests completely on the existing infrastructures. It is based on the optimization of crossroads within the concerned neighborhoods and on the creation and/or improvement of interchanges, mainly between the main highways and peripheral avenues of Eastern Beirut. This plan classifies the necessary interventions, by order of priority. They are punctual solutions that treat the causes of traffic congestion directly, with simple and straightforward means and through the completion of projects that remain incomplete because the connections between them are inefficient or nonexistent. Indeed, whatever the number of highways and avenues, they will remain inefficient if the connections between them are not well treated, which is widely the case in Beirut.
Thus, the main goal of the plan here presented is to create new connections, according to contemporary norms of traffic management.
1 – New connections between the main internal avenues of the Hekmeh/Mar Mitr neighborhood and the peripheral highways. Specifically, creating new connections between the internal Alfred Naccache and Charles Malek avenues and the peripheral Charles Helou, Pierre Gemaiel and Emile Lahoud avenues.
In order to drain the circulation exiting the neighborhood as well as all transit traffic (towards Hazmieh, Jdeideh or Dora for example), towards the peripheral highways, thus reducing the internal circulation.
Also, in order to facilitate access into the neighborhood from these peripheral highways, by optimizing and improving all the existing entry points, spreading the circulation on a greater distance rather than concentrating it on one or two limited entry points, which today cause great congestions and traffic jams.
2- New connections between the Charles Helou, Emile Lahoud and Pierre Gemaiel avenues. In order to facilitate the crossing from one of these peripheral highways to the other, something that is today extremely difficult and impractical. This will allow to reduce the congestion of internal streets that are today used to go from one highway to another. It will also reduce the congestion on the Pierre Gemaiel avenue and the Adliyeh round-about, as cars will more easily use the Emile Lahoud avenue (which is today underused).
In this way, a true « Peripheral ring road”, very much like the “périphérique” of Paris, will be created on the eastern border of Beirut. It will link together all the composing elements of the existing road network, in a functional and efficient way. In this way, people entering Beirut and residents of Achrafieh wanting to leave the capital, will take fluid and uninterrupted itineraries, which go around Beirut and take only dedicated express ways, rather than being forced to take narrow internal streets with numerous crossroads and traffic lights.
This alternative plan also includes a completely new project, which consists in building a complete tunnel under the Charles Malek avenue, linking the Fouad Chebah avenue / Ring road, with lateral entries and exists at the level of Tabaris, Alfred Naccache crossroad and MTV building. This tunnel will allow to drain the transit circulation between East and West, in both direction, thus reducing the congestion on the Charles Malek avenue. Indeed, this avenue today serves both a “slow” internal function and an “express” transit function on a width that is too narrow. Building this tunnel will allow to separate those two very different flows, leaving the ground level for the “slow” internal traffic of Achrafieh, with all its crossroads and traffic lights. And the buried level for “express” circulation that comes and goes between eastern and western Beirut. Thus creating a continuous and uninterrupted fast itinerary that goes on and under the Emile Lahoud, Charles Malek and Fouad Chehab avenues.
Complementary to this plan, are a number of solutions that will need to be thought of for the many points of traffic congestion on the Alfred Naccache/Mar Dimitrios avenue. It is an important access to Achrafieh with a “Fast” character, but that is radically slowed down by many activities (ABC mall, Spinney’s centre, Hotel Dieu hospital, AUST university, etc.) and by several crossroads. Further studies will need to be done specifically on these problematic points.
This alternative plan rests in part on the proper use of the Emile Lahoud. This road is indeed very strategic, as it runs along the entire eastern side of Beirut, and has the great advantage of being under-used and never congested! Contrary to other highways such as the Charles Helou avenue which carry much more circulation. Reorganizing excessive traffic by draining a part of it onto the Emile Lahoud avenue, makes sense and will contribute to reach some equilibrium in the distribution of traffic in and around Beirut. Such a strategy will make the Hekmeh-Turk axis / Fouad Boutros highway redundant and completely useless. Indeed, reaching the Hekmeh area will be done through the Emile Lahoud avenue and Charles Malek avenue/tunnel rather than through the Charles Helou avenue and Fouad Boutros highway.
It is important to note that this alternative traffic proposal was done with the collaboration of traffic engineers and urban planners. However it remains a preliminary proposal that will of course require the necessary feasibility studies, in order to make all of the proposed interventions more precise.