[EDITORIALS]Less concrete, better views

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[EDITORIALS]Less concrete, better views

The appearance of central Seoul is changing dramatically. After the demolition of the Cheongge elevated expressway and the Samil and Wonnam overpasses, buildings and trees hidden hehind them come into view with their original splendor. Now pedestrians can walk the streets under the sunshine. Another overpass in front of Seoul Station will be demolished soon, revealing the original features of the station building.
More than 100 elevated expressways and overpasses were built in Seoul since the 1970s, when Korea was growing quickly and priority was given to auto transportation. Such a trend was not limited to South Korea. In cities such as Boston and Tokyo, elevated expressways and overpasses running across the city center or along the shoreline have been built since the 1960s. With the increase of high-rise skyscrapers, using space vertically was considered a symbol of efficiency. People didn’t care that elevated expressways ruined the environment of a city and that pedestrians suffered from the inconvenience of passing under the shadows of concrete structures.
The recent world trend is demolishing them. In Boston, expressways are now built underground, and public parks are being created in their places. These days, people put more value on the urban environment and an improved quality of life.
We welcome the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s efforts to keep pace with world trends. Competiton is getting fierce among countries and among cities. Street landscapes and other attractive features of a city are important for competiveness. The beauty of the city itself is a good selling point.
There are worries about congestion after the demotition of elevated expressways. If traffic is congested in almost all corners of a city, however, it is difficult to facilitate the flow by solving traffic problems only at certain points with an elevated expressway.
Because we see that the number of vehicles entering the city center has decreased after the demolition of Cheonggye expressway, the spirit of cooperation of Seoulites is higher than before. Transportation problems must be solved by the expansion of mass transportation systems and the introduction of advanced traffic controls.
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