About Route 54 and other governmental plans
Q. When will the construction work start?
A. Practical civil work will start in 2010, after the construction work of underground railways of Odakyu Line is completed. In order to complete the work on time, both Odakyu Co. and Tokyo Metropolis are doing various preparations including topographic survey with which they intend to get the approval of the Ministry of National Land and Transport in May 2006.
Q. How much is the construction budget?
A. According to project evaluation report of Setagaya City, the cost of the first phase of construction is over $63 million (\7,500 million) for the Route 54, and over $55 million (\6,500 million) for the new station square, and $254million plus (\30billion) for new constructions along ring road 7. In addition to municipal funds, national subsidy is allotted to these developments.
Q. What will be the cultural loss for the city of Tokyo if that road is built in Shimokitazawa?
A. Japan as a whole has accumulated a huge amount of debt after the collapse of bubble economy in the 1990s. The country must now maintain sustainable growth while preserving the environment, and promoting harmonious human and social development.If the Route 54 plan is implemented, Tokyo will loose a neighborhood with a unique cultural atmosphere.
Moreover, it will be a test for the values of the metropolitan government. Will it promote the respect of local culture, history and urban topologies, harmonious urban rehabilitation, and the incremental integration of neighborhood into the rest of the city? Or will it follow a policy of tabula raza, destroying the long-standing and sophisticated urban communities in the name of the commercialization of land, and promoting large scale developments benefiting only big conglomerates?
Q. Who will directly benefit from the construction work of the Route 54 construction?
A. Route-54 is a public project funded by taxpayers. The main beneficiaries of the plan are land owners, construction contractors, developers, real estate service. Many house owners will speculate on land price and sell it to the metropolitan administration.
Q. Is the planned Route 54 necessary for resolving traffic jam?
A. The independent traffic volume survey we conducted reveals that the traffic volume is on a downward trend. As of now, the sub-road 54 project fulfills only 12 % of the criteria set by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Therefore, given the fact that the efficiency of the plan road is far below the criteria set by the government, we can question the justification for using public funds.
Q. Is the Route 54 necessary for disaster prevention?
A. The proposed sub-road 54 passes only through the north part of Shimokitazawa, whereas the soon to be reaffected Odakyu line railway crosses throughout the center of the area. Therefore it's more effective to improve the latter as an emergency corridor for disaster relief. The alternative proposal better ensures safety of the two dangerous areas, declared by the fire department as fire fighting enhanced areas in Shimokitazawa.
Q. Is vertical development better for revitalization of shopping area?
A. We believe the unique attraction of Shimokitzawa is the clustering of small stores. Verticalization inevitably requires large land surface. Vertical development would change the character of the area and irremediably damage the comparative advantage of Shimokitazawa. Our aim is to make Shimokitazawa an even more dynamic area while preserving its strong character and appeal.
Q. Shimokitazawa has little green, is the road useful for greening promotion?
A. A green town is certainly desirable. However, this is unlikely to happen. The new road will generate a larger influx of cars and create a more nuisance than the benefits of a few new trees. Our plan calls for the creation of new green spaces in the pedestrian center.
Q. How many people participate in this campaign? Who are they?
A. According to the records of the "Save the Shimokitazawa" website (www.stsk.net) inaugurated in last January 27, over 120 people show interest in the campaign and 500 people have signed up on to the web page of "Save the Shimokitazawa" and are receiving mail magazines (Japanese only). So far, over 14000 people signed the petition opposing the Road 54 plan. A group of 15 people regularly meets and conducts signature campaigns every weekend. The group comprises a wide range of people aging from early 20s to late 60s, students, professionals and housewives.
Q. How do you generate funds for the campaign?
The campaign is funded by volunteers who all contribute a small amount. Receiving contributions from many small donors corresponds well to the grassroots approach of our campaign.
Q. Have you met any influent politicians to talk about the Route 54 construction plan?
A. Unfortunately we have not been able to meet any powerful politicians thus far. We lack political connections. It seems that the government party and bureaucrats want to implement the plan of Route 54 with no debate. Some opposition politicians also ask for the withdrawal of the plan of Route 54 and support our movement. However, it is not clear whether they have been able to asses the plan thorough fully or if they simply oppose the plan because it comes from the government party. As a matter of fact, we deplore that few politicians in Japan dare questioning their party's policies.
Q. Do you have relationships with other community groups in Tokyo facing similar issues?
A. Several other groups are active in Tokyo at the moment. One of them is Kitami Ponpoko group, located in the western part of municipality of Setagaya. The group has shown interest in our activity. We believe it is necessary to develop a close relationship with other groups against unreasonable road construction plans.
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