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Beirut is not unique in the challenges confronted by its urban development. Like all living cities, Beirut needs to grow and change, but this should not happen at the expense of the historic city. Beirut will be unique when it learns from other cities and generates innovative solutions.It is precisely because the property is public that the CDR and the Beirut Municipality can do something different than build a bridge, as long as it is for the public good.Bridges are also notorious for destroying neighborhoods and streets, generating undesirable spaces under them, and radically degrading surrounding property.It is also not the few protected houses alone that merit conservation, but the overall context of the Mar Mikhael-Gemmayzeh neighborhood, of which the houses are an integral part in their present locations.Second, the campaign to stop the bridge includes carefully worked-out alternatives by world-class local planners and transportation engineers who have volunteered their time to come up with viable solutions consistent with the aspirations of Beirut today. These experts are saying that the land made available for the bridge project provides a rare opportunity to improve the neighborhood without destroying the existing buildings, through a financially viable scheme.It is possible to find a solution that addresses some of the through-traffic problems without destroying the existing fabric, while providing public amenities for the neighborhood and improving property values. Gemmayzeh residents are ideal users of local public transportation.
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