By Jean Christou
MAKARIOS and Kallipoleos avenues in Nicosia, two of the city centre’s busiest thoroughfares, are to become one-way roads as part of medium to long-term plans to end the capital’s traffic congestion.
According to the Nicosia municipality, which said it was working closely with the public works deparment, this would be the first step in a plan that includes the regeneration of the Makarios-Evagoras-Stassikratos ‘triangle’ and the inside and outside of the walled city, the creation of more bicycle lanes and the use of smaller public transport buses within the old town.
In the longer term the creation of a tram system would cap off the plan, followed by the possibility of a light-rail system between the island’s main towns – conditions and financing permitting.
The municipality’s spokesman Makis Nicolaides told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that there was however no timeframe for the commencement of the plan even though the green light has been given
According to the plan, Makarios Avenue would be made one-way northbound from the Hilton Hotel to the city centre and Kallipoleos would be made one-way southbound from the Ayios Antonis market to the Technical School.
Pavements and landscaping along both roads are expected to cost a total of €5 million, which would be co-financed under the EU’s 2014 -2020 programme.
“The municipality is closely cooperating with the communications and works ministry,” said Nicolaides. “The one-way system will be the first stage but there is as yet no date for implementation.” He said surveys have found that the move would be very significant for the two main roads in terms of traffic movement.
Nicolaides said most of the authorities involved in the plan had agreed with the move although the police had some concerns about teething troubles, he said. However running a comprehensive information campaign beforehand should forestall any problems, he added.
“It will be easy to resolve. People are creatures of habit and will need some time to adjust,” he said.
The biggest upheaval, when it does come, will be the creation of the tram system but this is not likely to materialise for ten years at least.
“This [tram system] is crucial for Nicosia,” said Nicolaides. Studies predict that by 2020 there will be over 800,000 cars a day moving on the capital’s streets
The tram plan foresees initially introducing a two or three line system – but this is expected to be studied further – with terminals at main bus station Solomou Square, Nicosia General Hospital and the Makarios Stadium. Again the cost – over €335 million – would be co-financed by the EU.
Trams systems are seen as fast, safe, reliable, efficient, low on noise pollution, and environmentally friendly. They are also seen as adding value to properties within serviced areas.