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Friday, December 25, 2009

SAM Street Proposal - Let's Start by Bringing a Tram line to Kuwait...



Brief Note: This blog post has also previously been published on the Kuwait School Blog. But as it deals with matters relevant to this blog, I thought it also fitting to include it here... TM


Before the metro, before even the train line, we should introduce a tram-line to Kuwait. Not all of Al-Kuwait, but initially only a very select section of the city – SAM Street (Salem Al-Mubarak Street in Salmiya)...

A tram line would not only encourage, usually full-time, drivers to become (part-time) pedestrians by alleviating finding a parking spot, as it would be easy to park at one location and take the tram to another. It would also be a faster means of getting around as it would mostly be the sole occupant of the central, currently more or less unused, central island separating the lanes. Using this space would entail that some of the trees which reside in this space would need to be removed, but hopefully this could be achieved by simply relocating them to an adjacent pavement. Developing a tram line would also, as infrastructure projects go, be a undertaking that in scale wouldn't, economically nor effort wise, be too insurmountable a task and would provide both an initial incentive and test-ground to explore the value, the do's & don'ts, for similar or other alternative means of transport in Kuwait. It would also furnish SAM Street with a unique character that's distinct from any other locales in Kuwait and would befit and support it as a pedestrianized district. It could also easily be expanded or integrated into other complementary transport systems. Perhaps it's the type of catalyst the city needs to begin doing something instead of just talking (about doing something).

Above and below - Two mappings proposing the potential routes of the tram-line along SAM Street. Proposal A would mainly occupy the central island between the street's two lanes, whereas Proposal B snakes and loops around a bit more, providing a slightly less confrontational approach to both the street's pedestrian and vehicular traffic...

There's been some very constructive debates and proposals going on between this and the re:kuwait blog regarding how the implementation and detailing of Kuwait's urban plan could be improved. Much of it has focused on how to lessen our dependence on the car in everything we do in Kuwait.

A chart exploring the approximate speed a tram could advance along SAM Street. It also provides a suggestion for stops along the street...

I think some of the points made in recent re:kuwait posts by Barrak (click here and here to access these) regarding only concentrating on the development of SAM Street's narrower western end are valid ones, and the most viable place to begin such an endeavour. Supporting this, however, it can be argued that to simultaneously also keep in mind the surrounding and related areas down east from 'Old Salmiya', which currently is the more populous and active end of the street, needs to be considered, if only for the sake of balance. Connecting these two ends, through a tram or some other means, would strengthen the character of the area as a whole, and allow it to develop and hopefully thrive as a continuous collective rather than the set of separate piecemeal entities it presently reads as. Currently few people realize how close some of the key nodes are along SAM Street. Walking from the 4th Ring Road end to the little junction point plaza by the U-turns takes about five minutes; walking from there to the Al-Salam building end takes another five minutes; continuing onwards it's only a five minute walk to Marina Mall (a stretch of road which could be even shorter if crossing the Hamad Al-Mubarak Street junction was made easier). From the Marina Mall down to the next large intersection, Qatar Street, takes about five minutes, and again it's only about a five minute stroll down to the Al-Fanar Mall. The last stretch of SAM Street from the Al Fanar to AUK requires again only an approximately five minute amble. Placing tram stops at about these nodes and junctions would allow one to reach all of the key locations along SAM Street within a few minutes stroll...

An illustration showing some of the key nodes along SAM Street, and approximate walking distances/ times between them...

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