Thursday, October 25, 2012

Long Awaited Street Light

After years of dealing with the world’s most dangerous pedestrian crossing, Ulaanbaatar walkers will finally get a break. The dangerous Peace Avenue street crossing, between the State Department Store and the Tserendorj Plaza, will finally get a dedicated street light. The street light has been set up but its not yet operational. When it is, pedestrians will finally be able to cross the street to the State Department Store without getting run down by numerous cars and buses who pack Peace Ave. 

Why it has taken four to five years of constant complaints to get this problem stop fixed will forever remain a mystery. But now that its in place, pedestrians can walk easy. Here’s to hoping for more common sense solutions to the Ulaanbaatar streets in coming weeks and months. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bat-Uul’s Plan to Reduce Traffic

We have a plan (at last).

Today Mayor Bat-Uul announced his plan to reduce traffic. Here are the main points:

1. Government workers must now take public transportation to work.

2. A staggered system of driving is being put in place for all central Roads (between the Ikh Toiruu and Narany Zam). Here is how it will work. If your license plate ends with 1 or 6 you can drive on Mondays. If your license plate ends in 2 or 7 you can’t drive on Tuesday. If your plate ends in 3 or 8 you can’t drive on Wednesday. If your plate ends in 4 or 9 you can’t drive on Thursday and if your plate ends in 5 or 0 you can’t drive on Friday.

3. Public schools will get school buses to take kids to school.

4. Tow trucks will be purchased to haul away illegally parked cars.

5. More paid parking lots to be established.

All of this will be in effect from Aug 25 to Oct 25 for a trial period.

This all sounds well and good.  I hope it helps. But there are a couple of issues here.

First, it seems too easy for government workers to cheat. They could still drive to work and just park in a lot other than their office lot. One way to fix this would be to give them a sort of bus pass, that they have to get punched or scanned by the bus conductor, to prove that they did indeed take the bus.

Second, it is not clear yet what is the punishment for violating the rule on driving if you happen to drive your car on the day you are not supposed to. Will there be a fine? If there is no fine then the plan won’t work at all. There should be a 50,000 tugrik fine for violators and the money they raise could be used to  pave more roads.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mounting Garbage Problems

The garbage problems in Ulaanbaatar seems to have gotten worse this summer, with large mounds of trash piling up in some courtyards. Seems like the city has lost control of this mounting garbage problem. Adding a few dozen waste bins around the courtyards would help, so scenes like the one below can be fixed - it would at least solve the problem of trash getting scattered around the parking lots. The city should also have a law against littering. For example, if a citizen knew they could be fined for littering, say 5000 tugrik, perhaps they would look for a garbage can rather than just dropping their trash on the street.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tunnel Closed Until September

The Tunnel that runs through Sansar will be closed until September, effective July 20. Apparently the city is going to be doing some major repair in the area. This is sure to guarantee some serious traffic headaches in Sansar for the rest of the summer. Plan accordingly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A New Park is Born

Ulaanbaatar’s highly touted “National Park” opened this week. I paid a visit today and we spent a couple of hours soaking it in. Impressions:

*It was not ready to open - clearly the city wanted to show it off before elections - there is still lots of basic construction work going on.

*Some basic facilities are still missing, there is no bathroom (toilet) and no parking lot. The playground is still very much under contraction. Lots of gaps in the walkways and lots of pipes around (trip hazards). Overall its pretty desolate.

*So what does it have? A fountain, couple of walkways, a plaza, a statue of an eagle, lots of flag poles, some very small trees. In other words, not much.

*There are plans to build soccer field, tennis courts etc, that might happen this summer. 

*Looking at the plan, I think they could do a better job in the landscape concept - the plans looks very artificial - mostly walkways, arches, statues, gates and trees planted in a straight row. Would be nice to see a wild forest grow here too, with little lakes and small hills. A shaded picnic area would be handy too - as the park is very exposed to the sun with no shade at all. 
some pics:
The plan...

 The fountain...
 The main path into the park...

Friday, June 22, 2012

UB opens new railroad crossing, eases traffic

A new railroad crossing has opened. It’s located near the Narantuul Market, crosses over the rail tracks and continues on the new road toward the International School. Reports are that since the road opened a couple of days ago the notorious traffic congestion on the Olympic Street rail crossing has eased.

The new road is easing traffic because all the people who live in Crystal Town and Bayan Mongol Horolol now have a new way to get into the city, they can head east, cross the new crossing and head straight up the Big Ring Road. The new road also allows anyone in Khan Uul and Zaisan area another option for getting to the eastern part of UB.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Development at Children’s Park

According to the Yonhap News Agency, Shangri-La is expanding its development in Children’s Park and new construction is planned. Here is the report.

The order in Mongolia involves the construction for Shangri-la of a 34-story Shangri-La hotel and apartment suites building, a 24-story office tower and five-story theater and commercial building. The 34-story building will include 110 hotel rooms which will be in addition to the 285 room Shangri-La hotel already under construction on the site to open in 2013.

Merkuri Market Park

It appears that a new neighborhood park is going to be built near the Merkuri Market. It is being wedged between the Merkuri Market parking lot and apartment building. Some construction has already started. This is another positive development for the city, especially in a part of the city that is crowded and no longer has any playgrounds. Remember that near Merkuri is the site of a former soccer field that was tragically stolen, sold off and developed into an apartment complex. The development of this little park will help the neighborhood. The above photo is a schematic of how the park is meant to look (hopefully it gets built).