It was meant to speed up inner-city traffic, but on rainy days, the brand-new expressway in the central Iranian city of Rafsanjan turns into a giant urban waterfall. Our Observers say  the road is an example of botched engineering and construction work at its worst.

The highway, which passes under Rafsanjan’s Shohada (Martyrs) Square, in the city centre, was inaugurated with much pomp in May 2010, during an official visit by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini. At the time, Rafsanjan Mayor Ali Akmbar Pourmohamdi declared that the project, which cost an estimated 1.7 million euros to complete, had required a year of preparation and over eight months of construction work. According to Pourmohamdi, the underpass would reduce traffic jams in the city centre by 60 per cent and boost the city’s economic development.

In reality, practically the opposite has occurred. At the first sign of heavy rains, Shohada Square is flooded with a torrent of water that cascades onto the underpass from the bridges above. Traffic slows to a crawl as smaller vehicles are forced to change streets.

Astonishingly, city authorities appear to have chosen to ignore the problem, going as far as to forbid local media outlets and officials from reporting on the flooding. Our Observers in Rafsanjan would only speak out on the condition of anonymity.
 
Video posted on YouTube by farhadswiss.
 

"When it rains, the highway becomes a joke to those who see it, and a tragedy for those who need to drive on it."

Rihaneh (pseudonym) is an ER doctor at a Rafsanjan hospital.
 
This project is an absolute mess. It’s the laughing stock not only of Rafsanjan but of everyone who visits the city. If it’s raining, people actually come from far away to see the ‘waterfall’ and ‘swimming pool’ for themselves. It’s pathetic.
 
I heard, though, that the city government grew so angry about people criticizing the highway that they forbade local media from publishing anything more on their ‘noble project’, which was supposed to solve the city’s entire traffic problem. And since the city has no opposition representatives as such, there are no voices ready to speak out publicly against about the problem.
 
Not only has the underpass not done anything to lessen the city’s traffic, but when it rains, it becomes a joke for those who see it, and a tragedy for those who need to drive on it.”

"Rumour has it that the engineers responsible for the project had ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."

Alireza (pseudonym) is an engineer in Rafsanjan.
 
From an engineer’s perspective, it’s unbelievable that the people who conceived this project could have made such a huge mistake. How could they not have thought about the slope and the way water would flow through it when it rained?
 
It seems that the mayor and his team were more interested in pulling off big publicity stunts for their political careers than in truly addressing the needs of the city. We need better public transport, cultural centres and other basic services more than fancy parks or highways. The construction of the underpass was rushed to be finished in time for the minister of Islamic Guidance’s visit in May 2010. There was big fanfare at the time, but a little rain and all that big talk comes tumbling down.
 
Rumour has it that the engineers responsible for overseeing the project had ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [a branch of Iran’s military founded after the 1979 revolution viewed by critics as a powerful and corrupt parallel government], which directly or indirectly controls most of the construction and development projects in the country.”
 
 

Photos originally posted here.