Traffic started flowing once again in Istanbul’s Taksim Square early this morning after the completion of a controversial pedestrianization project.
The road between Tarlabaşı Boulevard and Cumhuriyet Avenue was reopened to traffic after almost a year of construction, by taking the road underground and removing any kind of vehicle traffic and shops from a total of 98,000 square meters of area around Taksim Square.
Officials have said the opening of the road in Taksim will help ease Istanbul’s chaotic traffic, which is expected to become more hectic with the opening of schools on Sept. 16. The new road has two lanes just for buses on each side for a length of 100 meters, as well as 4,500-square-meter area for bus stops.
Underground tunnel in Istanbul’s Taksim Square opened to traffic
The pedestrianization project, which was carried out by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, included not only bringing the traffic underground but also constructing a shopping mall and residence in the style of an old Ottoman artillery barracks in the last green area of Istanbul’s city center, Gezi Park.
The plan prompted protests starting on May 27, when municipality workers started removing trees in the Gezi Park in order to build the shopping mall/residence. The heavy-handed police response to the environmental movement sparked demonstrations that engulfed the country on May 31. An Istanbul court canceled the barracks project in June, while permitting the underground traffic construction to be completed.