Work on remodelling the traffic flow in the very centre of Palma and making the capital more pedestrian friendly starts today with one side of the Borne being closed off to traffic. The remodelling of the Borne is the first phase of an ambitious project for the city centre and the old part of Palma which will eventually end with Jaime III being open to one-way traffic only. For the time being, the Borne will be open to traffic in both directions up and down the two-lane stretch leading down from Plaza Joan Carlos. Providing the project meets its deadline, access to the old part of Palma via calle Antoni Maura could be closed to traffic before the summer. Palma City Council's José Manuel Sierra said yesterday that the project will serve to revive businesses in the area and also make it easier, safer and more attractive for pedestrians. Sierra said that one of the council's primary concerns has been to divert the 82.000 vehicles which use the historic centre of the city every day, away from the area. The Borne handles an average of 3.400 vehicles per day. While no completion date for the Borne phase has been set, while work is being carried out, it will be open to local commercial traffic. “We are committed to recuperating the city centre,” Sierra said. The Borne plan has come under criticism from some shopkeepers who believe that the parking problem should be resolved before closing off the area while others are worried that the Borne will become a huge terrace for bars and cafes. Sierra however pointed out that, in its day, the pedestrianisation of calle Olmos was a controversial plan, but time has shown that it was a worthwhile and “necessary project.” Looking ahead, the eventual closure of Antoni Maura, the road which leads off the sea front up to the Borne, will divert traffic up the Avenida Argentina, but the council's chief traffic engineer, said yesterday that the Argentina is wide enough to cope with an increase in traffic and denied claims that the road will be brought to a standstill. He pointed out that traffic has always moved very slowly along Antoni Maura. Sierra urged city residents to be “understanding”. He admitted that the plans will mean some important changes to the city centre, such as the closure of Antoni Maura, but he explained that the mobility study and how the city council is reacting to its findings, is all being done for the good of the public and “to establish a balance between public and private transport and pedestrians.” The city council also announced that the streets Constitución, Tous i Maroto, Can Puigdorfila, Soledad, Minyones and Pelaires (between plaza de la Reina and calle Jovellanos) will become restricted access streets with residents living in the above streets having to obtain a special access permit from the Local Police in calle Sant Ferran.

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