November 16, 2015 12:33
Experts have given short shrift to police efforts to scupper a plan by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to close a dilapidated flyover and turn it into a park modeled on New York's High Line.
The Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements on Sunday has told the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport that the impact on traffic of closing the flyover will be "negligible."
The findings cast doubt on a zealous campaign to keep the flyover open despite extensive damage citing congestion fears around the transport hub.
Some critics see the conflict as a turf war between the conservative central government and Seoul city led by progressive Mayor Park Won-soon.
After police twice blocked closure of the flyover for renovation, Seoul city and the police both appealed to the ministry, which in turn asked the institute to conduct a feasibility study.
A spokesman for the institute backed Seoul's position that the overpass "is already dilapidated and safety is in question." He added "changes to certain routes" are entirely feasible.
Seoul city's plan would require some changes to existing streets to achieve the proposed stylized-tree shape for the park, which would need the approval of the transportation ministry. A ministry official said the ministry will make a decision based on the institute's findings.
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