An unalloyed adventure: who needs a ropeway over the Khimki reservoir

An unalloyed adventure: who needs a ropeway over the Khimki reservoir
An unalloyed adventure: who needs a ropeway over the Khimki reservoir
10 December 2020, 14:19City
The Moscow authorities are going to connect the two banks of the reservoir with funiculars, destroying both the natural and architectural environment in these areas.

Lyudmila Butuzova

Right now, Active Citizen is voting on a ropeway that will run over the Khimki reservoir and will connect the Skhodnenskaya and Rechnoy Vokzal metro stations. It is assumed that the new transport hub will significantly speed up the route between the Northwest Administrative District (Levoberezhny and Golovinsky) and the Northwestern Administrative District (Tushino) and relieve the passenger traffic on the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line. The declared capacity of the cable way is up to 63 thousand people per day. The construction is planned for the investor's money, the costs will be about 3 billion rubles, the payback is due to the sale of tickets for the funicular (from: 55 rubles when purchasing a travel card and 200 rubles for a single trip).

For the second year already, residents of the north-west of the capital, deputies of the Moscow City Duma and the independent architectural community of Moscow have been opposing the new urban planning project. According to experts, the cable way does not solve the transport problems of the city, but only entails the commercial development of a specially protected natural area (Park North Tushino), a cultural heritage site (Park of the North River Station) and destroys the natural complex (Khimki Boulevard).

So what is the “ropeway project” that is being discussed today at the “Active Citizen”? Is it a new approach to solving social problems in the interests of Muscovites, or is it just another example of the deterioration of the urban environment to please business?

Debriefing - architect Vladimir Vershinin:

- In order to understand the issue in detail, we will return to 2018. It was then that advertising began in the media and on the portal. Yuliana Knyazhevskaya, chairman of the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Architecture, spoke about the elaboration of a concession agreement with international companies, from which this proposal came, and argued that the ropeway "will significantly relieve the burden of street transport and metro lines". And so, on May 20, 2019, the idea took shape, and the project "Public Rope Transport System with a Drive Station" appeared on the state auction portal.

What kind of concessionaire? Foreign firms, which, according to Knyazhevskaya, were eager to build a ropeway in Moscow, disappeared somewhere, and the competition was won by Sports Complex "Vorobyovy Gory" LLC. The company is quite well-known, it is a prominent participant in the capital's public procurement, at the end of 2018 it appeared in an identical construction site - at the opening of a ropeway over the Moskva River in the Vorobyovy Gory region. Comfortable air cabins, including two VIP-class units, fit into the popular metropolitan recreation area and perform more a tourist function than a transport one. True, this cable way broke down on the second day of work. Do not forget that during the construction of the facility, all the trees were cut down and all green spaces along the path of the branch were destroyed by construction equipment; it will take more than one year to restore the natural ensemble.

Apparently, thanks to this experience, OOO Sports Complex "Vorobyovy Gory" had every chance of winning a new auction - along the cable way over the Khimki reservoir. We look further, what will it be - a toy for tourists or a convenient and necessary mode of transport for Muscovites?

The price of the ropeway ride, proposed by the winner of the auction in December 2019, varies from 55 rubles to 200 rubles. (For comparison: to the "River Station" from "Skhodnenskaya" can be reached for 250-300 rubles by taxi). After negotiations with the concessionaire in the Moscow City Duma, it became known that in case of insufficient profit from the cable way, compensation is possible from the budget of the city of Moscow (i.e. from the pocket of taxpayers). If the executive branch cared so much about ordinary citizens as about the concessionaire, I think Muscovites would be happy.

But in relation to ordinary citizens, the situation is different.

In the project, for the sake of the cable way, it was proposed to invade parks and cultural heritage sites, to build another shopping center (the third in a row) on Khimki Boulevard, putting the trees planted several years ago under the knife. The citizens did not like this much.

But in Moscow there is an organization responsible for the appearance of the city, for urban planning projects, did she not notice these disadvantages?

Yes, there is such an organization. This is Moskomarkhitektura. The paradox of the situation is that it was the Moskomarkhitektura and its subordinate institute GAU "Ni and PI Gradplan of the City of Moscow" who completed the initial design materials for the ropeway, regardless of the vital interests of Muscovites. And the fact that the project caused discontent among residents became known more than a year ago. A meeting was held within the walls of the Moskomarkhitektura, all negative aspects were discussed. Moreover, following the principle: "criticize - suggest", at this meeting I voiced an alternative proposal from Muscovites to adjust the project, with the possibility of removing the cable way from Khimki Boulevard and from the Rechnoy Vokzal metro station, that is, to connect the banks without going into specially protected natural areas (Northern Tushino Park) and a cultural heritage site - a park adjacent to the Northern River Station. This would drastically reduce the discontent of Muscovites and minimize the destruction of the urban environment. They promised to consider the proposed option.

Citizens showed persistence, turned to the Moscow City Duma, together with representatives of the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Architecture participated in a round table on the topic “Formation of the transport infrastructure of the city of Moscow”. As a result, a working group on the cable way was created to jointly consider all the problems. It did not last long - exactly 1 hour, judging by the recording on YouTube.

That first and only meeting of the working group was remembered by the fact that representatives of the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Architecture and subordinate institutions behaved as if the citizens of Moscow were enemies to whom one cannot give up an inch of land.

It was very interesting to listen to the deputy director of "Gradplan" Galina Mits. She talked about the fact that there is no regulatory framework regarding the distance between houses and the cable way (This is important, because the ropeway runs along residential buildings on both sides of the Moscow Canal). The director of the Institute for the General Plan of Moscow, Tatyana Guk, went even further, declaring that the cable way “is not a question of Northern Tushino or the River Station, but of the city's transport infrastructure”. (Great answer! Honestly, shut up and sit still as we cut down the boulevards and parks in your home neighborhoods and degrade your urban environment.) From my point of view, there was no attempt at a reasonable dialogue and compromise on the part of the chairman of the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Architecture Knyazhevskaya. (All responsibility was redirected to the concessionaire - if he would make a project, then we will discuss it, but what is drawn in our Moskomarkhitektura ... is "approximately", Muscovites are frightened in vain). The time has come to remind the chairman of the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Construction of her own words, said at the end of the meeting: "You should always work with facts, not with opinions."

Let's work with the facts.

Who is the author of the project displayed at Active Citizen? Concessionaire? No. As before, "Gradplan of the city of Moscow", and the Moscow Committee for Architecture is the customer.

What documentation is this project based on? On the documentation of the "Gradplan", which was demonstrated all this time and which Knyazhevskaya evasively called "exemplary". The shopping center, as it was originally located on Khimki Boulevard, is still located.

Analyzing the project documentation, we see that 1 hectare is allocated for the shopping center (it is now called multifunctional), and only 0.15 hectares for the cable way landing station. It becomes clear that the main thing is not the cable way, but the shopping center, which will be located close to the Skhodnenskaya metro station.

For a clearer understanding of the size of this structure, this is a large 6-storey building, planted directly on a natural complex. There is no doubt that it is needed here exclusively for the earliest recoupment of the costs of the cable way and further obtaining maximum profit.

The location of the multifunctional center will destroy trees, shrubs and landscaping on Khimki Boulevard. Meanwhile, 90,424,666 rubles from the budget of the city of Moscow (i.e. from the pockets of Muscovites) have been spent on its improvement in the last couple of years alone. A very interesting approach to spending budget funds in a crisis, isn't it?

Gigantic supports for the cable way are still located at Khimki Boulevard (natural complex), Northern Tushino Park (specially protected natural area) and Northern River Station Park (cultural heritage site). And there were not two of them, as was planned at the dawn of the venture, but nine - but such a spread in numbers for the Moscow City Architecture Committee is a familiar thing.

Now let's calculate how effective the cable way itself is. Representatives of "Gradplan" substantiate the need to build a cable way by creating a transport connection that will unload the street-road network and the Zamoskvoretskaya and Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya metro lines. Representatives of the "Gradplan" Galina Mits and Mikhail Sinkovich have repeatedly stated in the Moscow City Duma that the maximum capacity of the cable way is 19,000 people per day. Let's compare it with the capacity of the metro and the road network. The capacity of the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line is 30 359 619 people per month (979 342 people per day), the Zamoskovoretskaya line is 29 030 303 per month (936 461 passengers per day).

Together, two metro lines transport about 2 million people per day. Consequently, the ropeway will be able to transfer less than 1% of the passenger traffic of the two metro lines. If we also take into account in the calculations the number of passengers carried by buses, minibuses and personal vehicles, then the transport unloading from the cable way will be less than 0.5%.

Probably, colleagues from "Gradplan" were still tormented by vague doubts, and they understood that the numbers were in trouble. Therefore, we decided to slightly increase the projected throughput to 63 thousand people per day. What can you say in response? 63 thousand more than 19 thousand 3.3 times. 0.5% x 3.3 = 1.65%. Unloading by 1.65% and destroying a comfortable urban environment. Masterwork!

At the same time, in order to ensure the flow of 63 thousand people a day, there should be a queue of several kilometers long at the cable way stations at Skhodnenskaya and Rechnoy Vokzal. Because the booth is designed for 10 people. Most of them cannot leave the cable way station at once. For comparison, one metro train (which runs every 40 seconds during rush hour) can accommodate 2,500 people at once.

Conclusions on the project: in my opinion, this ropeway, in the proposed version, is a project necessary for the concessionaire and those persons in the executive branch who may be associated with financial interests. The presence of a multifunctional center destroying a part of the natural complex Khimki Boulevard indicates a desire to get maximum profit, worsening the environmental situation in North Tushino, but at the same time taking a financially advantageous place near the Skhodnenskaya metro station. An attempt to hide behind green facades and trees on the roof of the MFC is pure manipulation. Moreover, against this background, the proposed architecture of the center looks even more absurd, which is a composition of parallelepipeds and cubes and sharply discord with the surrounding space. The entire composition and design of Khimki Boulevard is completely destroyed, since at its beginning, instead of an open green space, closing the perspective view towards the Moscow, a multifunctional center appears, the need for which is completely absent, due to the location near the Skhodnenskaya metro station of two shopping centers Kaleidoscope (with an area of 119 thousand square meters) and Orange World. The proposed routing will destroy comfortable resting places for residents, since walking under overhanging supports and booths rushing overhead is an additional stress.

The mistakes of the Moskomarkhitektura can be corrected if the mayor's office gives preference to an alternative project proposed by residents. This alternative will connect the shores without destroying the two areas. This is a ready-made option for prompt settlement and prevention of conflicts in the field of urban planning, taking into account the balance of interests of Muscovites, the concessionaire and the executive branch. The project proposed by Moskomarkhitektura, which is now hanging on the "Active Citizen", should be resolutely rejected, since it has all the signs of corruption, destroys a comfortable urban environment and provokes social tension in the capital.

Together, two metro lines transport about 2 million people per day. Consequently, the cable car will be able to transfer less than 1% of the passenger traffic of the two metro lines. If we also take into account in the calculations the number of passengers carried by buses, minibuses and personal vehicles, then the transport unloading from the cable car will be less than 0.5%.

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