Business daily Napi Gazdaság let loose with a pretty scary headline last week, suggesting that a looming reconstruction of Ferenciek tere in Budapest’s District V would soon lead to a new outbreak of “transport chaos” in the capital. On closer inspection, though, it seems that not only isn’t the chaos coming any time soon, it is actually rather overdue.
While in April of last year District V mayor Antal Rogán said that the busy hub would get a major, EU-sponsored makeover in 2012, Napi’s piece indicates that only the tendering for the project is now underway, with bids for the HUF 3.2 billion contract due at the end of July. The actual work would then only start sometime next year.
What’s a little worrisome is the seeming lack of closure on what exactly this part of Rogán’s “city of the future” (jövő városa) is going to look like. For example, every recent report I’ve seen has the traffic underpass being turned into a pedestrian walkway, linking the already semi-ped-zones on either side of Ferenciek tere in the District. But are they really going to turn it into a subterranean shopping mall? Or are they going to switch back to the earlier idea of putting all local auto and bus traffic underground, or just getting away with it entirely, as the earlier rendering above suggests?
Looking at the various official websites associated with the heavily EU-funded project, there doesn’t seem to be any answer. Though maybe I’m looking at the wrong place: I am working on the assumption that between the Belváros új főutcája (“Downtown’s New Mainstreet” website and that for Budapest Szíve (“Heart of Budapest”) I’ve got it covered.
Either way, I really hope they know what they are building before they break ground, because the current tender says that construction can last 460 days, by which time the city’s more well-connected design and construction firms may be tearing the whole thing up again.