Thursday, July 28, 2011

Highway-turned-waterway is the laughing stock of Iran



It was meant to speed up inner-city traffic, but on rainy days, the brand-new expressway in the central Iranian city of Rafsanjan turns into a giant urban waterfall. Our Observers say the road is an example of botched engineering and construction work at its worst.

The highway, which passes under Rafsanjan’s Shohada (Martyrs) Square, in the city centre, was inaugurated with much pomp in May 2010, during an official visit by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini. At the time, Rafsanjan Mayor Ali Akmbar Pourmohamdi declared that the project, which cost an estimated 1.7 million euros to complete, had required a year of preparation and over eight months of construction work. According to Pourmohamdi, the underpass would reduce traffic jams in the city centre by 60 per cent and boost the city’s economic development.

In reality, practically the opposite has occurred. At the first sign of heavy rains, Shohada Square is flooded with a torrent of water that cascades onto the underpass from the bridges above. Traffic slows to a crawl as smaller vehicles are forced to change streets.

Astonishingly, city authorities appear to have chosen to ignore the problem, going as far as to forbid local media outlets and officials from reporting on the flooding. Our Observers in Rafsanjan would only speak out on the condition of anonymity. (more)