Rome's Smog Leads to Proposed Ban on Cars

Article excerpt

AFTER weeks of pressure from environmentalists and left-wing politicians, Edmondo Angele, Rome's chief traffic official, has proposed measures to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion in the capital's historical center.

Most of Rome's nine pollution monitoring stations have been reporting higher-than-acceptable levels of carbon monoxide emissions since Romans returned from vacation in early September.

To combat the problem, Mr. Angele seeks:

*A ban on private traffic from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the center of Rome, to take effect this coming Monday. The area includes Via Veneto, the fashionable and heavily trafficked street on which the United States embassy is situated. In addition, the center would be off limits during the hours of 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays year round and every evening from June 15 through Sept. 15. Buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles would continue to operate in the area.

*Elimination by Jan. 1 of half the 16,000 passes that allow privileged professionals to use the few city center streets already closed to private traffic.

*Deployment of 1,500 policemen to enforce the rules.

Although a poll published last week by La Repubblica newspaper showed that more than 90 percent of Romans agreed with the statement, "The traffic situation has become unbearable," no action has been taken so far.

The City Council met Tuesday to vote on Angels plans, but postponed action when the session erupted in controversy.

The Greens and the communists said the plan did not go far enough, while the conservative opposition called for less drastic action. …