Budapest’s cash-strapped city council has dreamed up projects worth EUR 50 million to be completed between 2014 and 2030 in the new detailed city development plan released on Monday.
Fidesz mayor István Tarlós in presenting the more than 200-page project summary said it is based on “concrete, collected and processed data” and it “highlights the direction and goals of the development”.
The 27 projects, largely dependent on EU funding, include the further development of all three current metro lines, such as the renovation of the Blue M3 line – which is in critical state in terms of infrastructure and carriages – to start in 2016, as well as the renovation and extension of the M1 Millennium metro line, planned to start in 2017.
The second wave of the Budapest trams and trolley bus project is to introduce 87 new trams and 69 new trolleys between 2014-20.
The plans also include the renovation of the Chain bridge, the Petőfi bridge, the Castle tunnel, as well as the complex renovation of Városháza square and city baths, and the development of the city zoo.
The mayor says the new plans are not based on the previous government’s Podmaniczky-plan, which was a “collection of hopes and dreams”, and “as the Socialists admitted”, according to Tarlós, “not much was realised from it”.
According to City Hall, those accusing city leadership of not developing the city nor cooperating with the government are “either wrong or are trying to mislead the public on purpose”. Budapest, according to the mayor, is “developing and working, leaders are not chasing dreams nor hopes, but basing the plans on calculations, technical plans, and legislative and financial analysis”.
The opposition sees quite the opposite. According to Info Radio, Socialist deputy leader Kata Tüttő called the plans “nothing more than the city leaders’ new fairy tales”. She said the mayor lays claims to projects that were in fact planned by the previous Social-liberal administration. She added that the City Hall would restart some projects now that were stopped in the past. She claimed to be happy about the plans, but in doubt about their success, especially when it comes to keeping the deadlines.
The M4 metro line’s first phase, now promised to be finished in March 2014, was supposed to be completed in 2007-2009. The original 2004 estimated cost of HUF 195 billion more than doubled by October 2012. Tarlós said that the delays and ballooning of costs are the fault of “scandalous” contracts signed under previous city councils, and that recently more than HUF 10 billion of the final cost of HUF 452 billion was successfully reclaimed by the city.