Heroes' Square

Overpriced infrastructure and natural hazard

Photo credit GHN

The recent transformation of the biggest transit node in the city included the construction of multiple flyover bridges connected to a new highway in the Vere river plain, and the construction of a new monument in 2011. The cost of this new infrastructure reached 115 mln GEL (in Georgian) (USD 68 mln in 2011 rates). Four years later, in June 2015, the area became an epicenter of one of the deadliest floods recorded in the last 100 years in the city, killing tens of local residents, destroying the nearby zoo and killing the majority of its animals. The city administration took the decision to restore the damaged infrastructure in the river plain costing additional [15 mln GEL] (in Georgian). Nearly ten years later after it was remodelled with the aim to ease congestion, the traffic in the place got even worse than it was before, proving once again the uselesseness of building new infrastructure to accomodate cars to reduce the number of cars on the road. The consequences have been disastrous for the city not only in monetary terms and its overall negative impact on urban mobility, but also in human [and animal] lives. On the other hand, even though the area has been considered to be a flood zone new road infrastructure opened abundance of opportunities for private capital. It is even more troubling that the city administration keeps granting(in Georgian) construction permits in the area allowing private capital to speculate with real estate and build residential and commercial spaces, thus **maximizing their profits!**

Giorgi Kankia
urban geographer and planner