Seoul readies overpass park for summer scorchers

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Seoul readies overpass park for summer scorchers

The overpass park that runs above the tracks of Seoul Station is getting a summer makeover.

More cooling stations, sprinklers and shaded areas will be coming to Seoullo 7017, the city government announced on Thursday.

“It’s only been a year since the trees were planted on Seoullo, so the park still lacks natural shade,” said Lee Soo-yeon, head of the Seoullo management team at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

“Until the trees grow thicker, we will be installing more shaded areas and sprinklers in the park so that visitors can enjoy it during the summer.”

Last year, the government transformed a 1,024-meter (0.6-mile) highway that runs through the center of the city into a pedestrian park akin to New York’s High Line.

The name, Seoullo 7017, represents the year 1970, when the highway was constructed, and 2017, when it was turned into a park.

“From this Saturday until the middle of September, we will install 15 more large umbrellas in the park to provide a total of 25 shaded areas,” the Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a press release. “The park’s three indoor spaces will be fully air-conditioned from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be twice as many devices than before that spray cool mist along the rail of the walkway above Seoul Station.”

Heat has been an issue in the open-air park during the summer months. On Thursday afternoon, the temperature in one section of Seoullo was 32 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit).

“I use the overpass park when I have to get from one area to another in the vicinity because it shortens the travel time,” a nearby office worker said, “but the park lacks shaded areas and is not the best place to be during heat waves.”

The government said it would install two more fans that spray water, bringing the total to four, and add 10 sprinklers.

A 200-square-meter mat made of coconut skin will sit near the Rose Stage, a section of the park that the government says warms up the quickest. The government believes the mat will absorb heat better than hard concrete.

“We will also rent 600 umbrellas to visitors of the park for free whenever the government issues a heat warning,” the city government said. Last year, it rented out 200 umbrellas for free during heat waves. About 70 percent of them were returned, the government said.

The park can hold up to 5,000 visitors at a time, according to the city government, and has been visited by 10 million people since it opened last year.

“I think in three years, the trees planted at the park should be able to do their jobs in providing natural shade,” said Cho Young-chang, part of the Seoullo management team at the city government. “Seoullo has over 10,000 trees that will grow to be over 8 meters high.”

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