Monday, November 04, 2013
More Traffic Woes
I don't know what it was today, maybe another road or roundabout was closed unexpectedly, but the traffic in West Bay was nightmarish. When I left the office and started walking to my car all I could see was gridlocked traffic in front of City Center, both ways, and a huge line of traffic coming from Arch Roundabout. Someone told me it been like that for at least the last 20 minutes. Nowadays traffic out of West Bay is pretty bad but this was something else.
I was in a rush to get anywhere so I went to a café, had a coffee, read the newspaper, occasionally checking twitter to read all of the "OMG what is with all the traffic?" tweets, and had a light snack. After about an hour I got in my car . . .
. . . and promptly got stuck in gridlocked traffic at Sheraton Roundabout.
Wow, so this has been going on for probably close to two hours? I think I was catching the tail end of it, there were cops at the intersections on the Corniche trying to keep traffic moving, but even then I'd say it took me almost 25 minutes just to get to Arumaila Park.
I feel sorry for all the people who are in a rush to pick up kids from school and so forth, having to deal with this kind of traffic every day must be a nightmare.
I sure hope this was an unusual event and that for some reason traffic got snarled up worse than usual but unfortunately I think this is providing a glimpse of the future. With over 75 cars being added to the road every day, more office towers being built in West Bay, and no new roads to West Bay, I'm sure by next year this will be the norm. I might be eating dinners every day at City Center Mall just to wait the traffic out.
Let's hope that the roadworks going on will actually make a difference and within a month things will have improved somewhat. In the longer term though I can see nothing but problems on the horizon.
Qatar‘s population is growing rapidly and will likely grow by 10% in 2014, adding another 200,000 people to the country. It is estimated that for the 2022 World Cup construction they could bring in up to 1.5 million construction workers alone, close to the current population of the entire country! Despite all of the road construction going on I don't think it will keep up with the growth -- it would require at least 30,000 new buses just to transport the workers alone.
As for the area north of West Bay: the embassy area, West Bay Lagoon, the Pearl, and Lusail, I haven't seen any plans yet for affordable housing in those areas. The plan is for Lusail to have dozens of office towers, where are most of the office workers going to live? I suspect the plan is for Lusail to have nothing but the same luxury housing found in West Bay, the Pearl etc, which leaves your average worker having to find cheaper accommodation, which means staying in the city, which means commuting. Can the highway being built between Lusail and West Bay handle all of that traffic? Are lots of people looking at two hour commutes from the city to Lusail? Hopefully I'm wrong about the planning and there will be plenty of affordable housing in Lusail so that your average office worker will be able to live much closer to the office.
What's the plan Doha? Let me know.