Belgická Street reopens with trees intact

A local initiative forced the city to reconsider plans for the Prague 2 street

Renovations on the first part of Belgická Street in Prague 2 are finished, and the section will be a pedestrian zone until the end of October, but cars will return after that.

Belgická starts at náměstí Míru and runs to Jana Masaryka Street. It is lined with stores, bars and restaurants. The original plan called for the trees lining the street to be cut down, but public outcry caused the plan to be revised. Some 80 trees in two rows line the street, providing shade and a calm atmosphere. Half of the trees, however, are in poor health, according to a survey by the Technická správa komunikací (TSK), the city agency responsible for maintaining streets.

Local residents started a petition to save the trees and gathered 1,700 signatures, which was enough for the TSK to postpone felling them. An independent examination of the trees found only a few were in truly bad shape. The Prague 2 administration also opposed cutting down the trees.

Eventually, most of the trees survived and the trees will be restored over the next 20 years. Negotiations between the TSK and the civic initiative Belgická Street Lives (Belgická žije) to save the trees took two years.

During the six months of renovation on the street, the underground infrastructure for electricity, gas and water was repaired, and the pavement was replaced on the surface since July. The remaining trees were trimmed for their health.

Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) said the project could be seen as a prototype for the future, as the renovations maintained the character of the street while meeting the goals of the repairs.

Work will now begin on the second half of the street, between Bruselská and Jana Masaryka. Work should finish next year, depending on the weather and the cooperation of the entities involved.

The repair throughout the summer of the first part caused noise and dust, which discouraged people from going to some of the bars and restaurants on the street. Residents and shopkeepers are planning a celebration over the weekend to mark the end of the first phase of the renovation.

Belgická Street, and other streets around náměstí Míru, are named for countries that fought in World War I. Over the years, Belgická Street has had other names including Růžová Street (Rose Street) and Komenského Street, after educator John Amos Comenius. 

Street work in Prague 2 will continue with more projects. An extensive renovation of Vinohradská Street is planned for 2018.

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