Update – 25.11.15: At a press conference today Seoul announced that the permanent closure is pushed back to 13 December. MOLIT submitted their final decision today but Seoul still has to receive a confirmation from the police agency. It delays the closure for two weeks.
For quite some time I didn’t write about the Seoul Station Overpass project. After Seoul’s mayor decided to transform the elevated road near the main train station of Seoul into a High Line-style park for pedestrians, there were two car-free days on the Seoul Station Overpass and a design competition selected MVRDV’s design. Since then there was nothing to report about. Until now!
November 29 is the official beginning of the permanent Seoul Station Overpass closure. But yesterday mayor Park Won-soon said in an interview that in a worst-case scenario there is a chance that the project could be scrapped. According to the mayor, the problem is that the government and police agency are against the plan. No progress has been made regarding the development of the Seoul Station Overpass due to lack of cooperation. Thus, it may be difficult to expect that the plans will become reality.
Currently, the project is under risk of delay because of two reasons: First, the police agency has yet to decide on traffic measures. Even though the committee that is responsible for such a decision met a couple of times, they didn’t talk about the traffic measures after the Seoul Station Overpass closure at all. Secondly, Seoul requested a traffic analysis from the government a month ago but Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) didn’t complete it yet. The police agency claims that they can’t make any move without the result of MOLIT’s analysis.
Then Park Won-Soon said that he is especially disappointed by the president Park Geun-Hye. When Lee Myeong-Bak has been the mayor of Seoul and intended to restore the Cheonggyecheon stream, the government which consisted of the rival party at that time supported him financially.
No Seoul 7017 project or political power play?
The content above is from an interview that was published yesterday morning. In the afternoon of the same day news outlets reported that MOLIT finally submitted the result of their traffic analysis: There won’t be any traffic problems if the overpass closes and they approve the proposed changes in the local traffic guidance. Is it possible that MOLIT gave out the result after getting such pressure from the mayor through the media? There is still over a year left until mayor Park Won-Soon wants to complete the project. Is it really possible that a couple of delays can risk the whole project?
The Seoul Station Overpass closure is going to happen anyway on November 29. The overpass was evaluated as not safe enough to drive on it and the mayor says that the safety of citizens comes first. Soon this traffic is going to disappear (or it has to find a different route):
Actually, the important question is not “Can the project be realized?”. Seoul should ask: Should we transform the overpass to a park? Wouldn’t it be better to remove it completely? It still seems that the shop owners at Namdaemun Market and others are against the project. As I wrote in other posts about the overpass, public consultation and participation is very important.