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Bye Bye Blackbird

On Wednesday evening the bulldozers moved in to begin the demolition of the Zogu i Zi overpass. They were back on Thursday evening and, considering how much was still standing on Friday morning when the pictures below were taken, they will be back regularly for a while yet.

The bulldozers are silent during the day when traffic is at its heaviest, but that hasn't prevented a small army of irregular demolition squads from taking their sledgehammers, picks and saws to the remains. One enterprising pair had even brought along a portable generator to run their demolition gear.

The demolition provoked public comment from across the political spectrum. "We're only enforcing the law," said the Prime Minister, Sali Berisha. The Transport Minister, Lulzim Basha responding to calls from the municipality for compensation from the central government, said that the "Tirana Mayor should compensate the capital's citizens."

The Mayor, Edi Rama - who is also Chairman of the opposition Socialist Party - commented: "last night - with the demolition - Sali Berisha showed he is not only an especially incapable person, but even an incorrigible vandal." Ilir Meta, Chairman of the Socialist Movement for Integration - another opposition party - asserted that "the demolition was politically motivated and arbitrary."

A week before demolition began the government had signed an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a 14.6 million EUR loan that will be used to improve Tirana's roads. Whether that will include the development of an alternative to the project now being demolished is unclear.


Anonymous said…
Yep, the EBRD overpass is supposed to suplant this one.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the pictures, we'll have to start paying you as a correspondent :)

ITS said…
This is so sad, I can't find the words to describe my feelings right now.

What a mockery the politcians have made of the poor people's tax money.
traveller one said…
Oh Alwyn... what photos! We drove through the zone this afternoon on our way to the airport and it is so sad (like ITS says). What a modern tragedy.
Genci said…
As a reference, here is what they are planning to build in place of that overpass:

It is sad that the government decided to demolish it. :(
Dritan said…
It's sad that a million dollars have been wasted like this, when it could've been used in so many other ways. So much time and energy wasted also.
Berisha obviously wanted to show who's the boss of the place; too bad it choose such a needed infrastructure object. Again he's demonstrating his political miopia.
Also, Rama should've tried working with Berisha on this one, rather than be all political and confrontational. Clearly Rama profits politically from this destruction more than anybody else, that's why he never even tried to solve the issue. He is the mayor of Tirana indeed, but he must recognize and respect the central government rather than act as a political leader.
ITS said…
I hate roundabouts with a passion. When I was driving in Albania for the first time last year, I kept going in circles all confused, as I had never seen such abomination in North America.

Overpasses are so much more efficient at switching highways.

It will probably take a good 2-3 years to finish that disgusting roundabout anyways. What a shame...
ITS said…
Oh, and how sad that Pjeter Arbnori died today, rather than a much better candidate for hell, Berisha.

In Albania we have a saying:

"Rrufeja nuk bi n'halé!"

Lightning doesn't strike the crapper!
ローラ said…
Hmm....There was some comment (of someone from Tirana) on Peshku pa Uje supporting the demolition and the construction of an overpass near the highway.

As much as I would like Berisha to burn in a hellish political fire and never return, I wonder if an overpass that close to the center, in a residental area was a good idea.

Oh, and Its...there are actually "roundabouts" in Norh America. You cannot get to Cape Cod from New York City without driving around in one.
lira said…
Just to clarify something since I live in Tirana...and am not a supporter of Berisha in any way, but that overpass was really very wrong. I have to go through "Zogu i Zi" every day and I can tell you it didn't make any sense from a technical and urban point of view. The reasons for which it is being demolished might be the wrong ones, but the construction of that monster in a heavily populated area was a mistake from the beginning. You probably can't tell from the photos, but had it been completed by now our typicallly environment-unfriendly cars would be going at high speed by the second floor balconies of the buildings near-by...really..
Klea said…
Waw its… where do you find so much hate. You don’t even live here or are in any way directly reflected by Berisha’s decisions. You can’t surely wish someone’s death just because you don’t agree with his/her views. As a matter of fact lira is right. The overpass was so wrong in that particular spot. That’s the opinion of all those who could judge the matter beyond any political reasons. You’re right though, overpasses are so much more efficient at switching highways but where do you see highways being built in city centre!!
ITS said…
Hate and love are directly related. I love my friends and family who live in Tirana, and pay their hard-earned money in taxes.

I hate to see that tax money being wasted, for political reasons. Again, not that neccesseraly I would want Berisha dead right this minute.

Just saying that he is a better candidate for hell than Arbnori...
ardit said…
Living in the States, I can tell you that overpasses are just plain ugly, not that efficient, and harbors or crime and dirtiness.

In cities like San Francisco, places close to underpasses are the prefered dealing places for drugg delears.

to ITS:
Many places in the USA are gutting down overpasses, for more aesthetically pleasing runabouts.

you don't need an over pass that close to the city.

Don't make it political. I don't like Berisha either, but I always thought the overpass was just plain ugly.
r said…
at the risk of sounding ignorant, is this the one at the end of the big avenue, on the way out of tirana towards the station/rinas?
ourmanintirana said…
Hello r. The juntion is in the west of the city on the Durres road where it intersects R. Muhamet Gjollesha (Unaza). I believe the proper name for it is Shesi Karl Topia.

Good luck with your project.
iustina said…
what amazing pictures!
ourmanintirana said…
Thanks Iustina.

On the relative merits of overpasses and roundabouts, I'm definitely in the roundabout camp. They are more compact, less expensive, and less visually intrusive.

However, there are two key critieria for roundabouts to work. First is traffic volume. There comes a point where the volume of traffic is too high for roundabouts to work properly.

Second, since roundabouts require a measure of driver discipline and self-restraint in order to function effectively, they may not be ideal for Tirana where those characteristics are in short supply among motorists.

Ll - you can buy me a beer next time you are in Tirana.
Anonymous said…
Alwyn you got yourself a deal :)


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