September 23, 2016 11:59
A sprawling subterranean complex similar to Montreal's Underground City is planned for Seoul.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday said it will build a 400-m underground passage linking City Hall to Gwanghwamun subway stations from 2020 to 2025 with a wide range of public and commercial facilities.
There are two underpasses already linking City Hall to Dongdaemun subway stations and connecting Gwanghwamun and Jongkak subway stations. The new passage will complete the link from City Hall to Dangdaemun, so that people can walk all the way through without ever surfacing.
Underground City in Montreal connects 10 subway stations and stretches for 32 km. It houses commercial facilities and offers a sprawling passage way protecting pedestrians from the bitter cold winters.
Seoul city hopes the new underground complex will boost pedestrian traffic in downtown areas and boost business.
But critics say the announcement was rushed out without thorough planning, and the city seems unable to provide exact figures on the total cost, claiming that the project will be funded by private businesses.
The city has merely pitched a ball-park figure of W1 trillion, saying the plan includes four new buildings and remodeling one (US$1=W1,105).
Critics say Mayor Park Won-soon, who plans to run for president next year, is just trying to woo votes with the project. Park has pledged to make the capital more pedestrian-friendly, but the only significant public project he can call his own so far is turning a dilapidated flyover next to Seoul Station into a park.
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