Sarkozy presents multibillion-euro plan for Paris public transport
Paris - French President Nicolas Sarkozy Wednesday presented his vision of a Greater Paris, which included a proposal to invest 35 billion euros (46 billion dollars) in the expansion of the capital's public transport system.
The idea is to expand the city so that it eventually incorporates its run-down suburban ghettos, a nest of poverty and crime, Sarkozy said.
"Public transportation must function in the suburbs exactly as it does in the inner city," Sarkozy said during a speech held at the Palais de Chaillot, to open an exhibition of the proposals by 10 architects for a Greater Paris.
A bill on expanding the public transport system would be put before parliament in October, Sarkozy said, with work scheduled to begin "before 2012."
Part of the plan calls for a new automatic rapid transit system 130 kilometers long.
Sarkozy said the transportation project could be paid for in part by property taxes and also by the increased number of passengers on the system.
The French president said he foresees Paris expanding all the way to the northern port city of Le Havre in the not-too-distant future.
"We want to build the city of the 21st century," Sarkozy said, and noted that Paris must eventually be comparable to Tokyo or New York City.
The project would also serve to help pull France out of the economic crisis, he suggested.
"France will emerge from the crisis because of grand projects," he said. "Greater Paris is France after the crisis." (dpa)