The Ankara 12th Administrative Court handed down the ruling yesterday, reversing the Ankara 3rd Administrative Court's decision, which ruled earlier this month that the Akay underpass, located in one of the Turkish capital's busiest areas, must be closed to traffic after an appeal from the Çankaya Municipality, which is run by the Republican People's Party (CHP). The underpass was built in 1999 to relieve traffic flow in the area, and the court made its ruling on the grounds that it violates the city's zoning plan.
In its ruling yesterday, the court said the Çankaya city council's decision regarding the closure would cause major damage if it is put into practice. It also said a justification would be sought from the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality; hence, it ruled for a stay of execution until an assessment was made.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, CHP deputy leader Yılmaz Ateş said debates on the Akay underpass had brought Ankara's traffic problems into the spotlight, stressing that Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek is responsible for solving the capital's traffic problems.
Another CHP member, Ankara deputy Nesrin Baytok said she hoped the debates on the underpass would open up the subject of the paralyzed traffic in Ankara to discussion. “Let's discuss Ankara's traffic problems. We need a sound project to address the city's traffic problems. Gökçek has to solve this problem,” she said.
In the meantime, the row between the Ankara and Çankaya municipalities intensified when Ankara Municipality used billboards in the Akay junction area to announce to the public that the underpass would be closed to traffic because of an appeal from Çankaya Municipality. Çankaya Mayor Bülent Tanık accused Gökçek of wasting public resources, saying that he would launch a criminal compliant against Gökçek.
Gökçek dismissed Tanık's claims and said the billboard announcements were aimed at informing the public about the closure of the underpass. He called on Tanık to apply to the Council of State and withdraw his appeal if he wanted to get rid of the public reaction.
He said the most practical solution to the problem would be for Tanık to withdraw his appeal. “Common sense is called for. Those who ignore the public's problems will pay the price in the first elections to be held,” warned Gökçek.
Tanık claimed that he has sufficient experience to solve Ankara's transportation problems. “I would like to mention that I am ready to solve the problems which Ankara Municipality has so far failed to solve if I am provided with the authority and the financial means,” he said.