[FOUNTAIN]The mayor takes on restorationThe Green Monster is the nickname of the left-field wall in Fenway Park, the baseball stadium where the Boston Red Sox play their games.
Due to its 11.3-meter (37-foot) height and 70-meter length, hitting home runs over the left wall is a rarity. Instead, balls tend to smack the wall and bounce in unexpected directions, making fielding difficult.
Meanwhile, Boston has another green monster. It is an overpass in the center of the city, linking southern Boston and the regional airport.
The four-kilometer (2.5 mile) overpass was completed in 1959. But as the number of cars grew, traffic congestion increased and the overpass became a grim reminder of the city’s spoiled landscape. That is when Boston residents began calling it the “green monster.”
The green monster roadway could not be left standing. Between 1982 and 1990, Boston conducted surveys of the overpass and the city’s environment. And, finally, a project to remove the overpass and build an underground tunnel was launched.
Construction was supposed to stretch from 1991 to 2004 and the cost $14.6 billion. The city named the project the “Big Dig.”
The tunnel has now been built and the overpass is being dismantled. When the Big Dig is completed, Boston will have been shaped.
In Seoul, beginning today, the Cheonggye elevated highway will be demolished. It is similar to the Big Dig and it follows the pledge of Lee Myung-bak, the mayor of Seoul, who promised in the election a year ago to “restore the natural environment and the culture of Seoul.”
A construction project of its size is rare in Korea. It is similar to the Boston project, encompassing the destruction of the Cheonggye elevated highway and the restoration of Chyeonggye stream, which once ran in its path.
But the Big Dig had more than 10 years of preparation, while the Cheonggye project had about one year. Also, the Big Dig project has been completed gradually over 10 years while the Chyeonggye project is scheduled for completion in only 27 months.
Mayor Lee created “the myth of development” when he was spearheading numerous development projects in the past. Now he is leading a restoration project that will change the nature and culture of Seoul. Will he be able to create the myth of restoration, too?
by Lee Kyu-youn
The writer is deputy social affairs news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.