On Thursday morning, Transport Minister Clément Beaune ignited the fuse by stating that the state would not “validate” the decrease in speed on the 35 km ring road wanted by the Paris city hall after the Olympic Games in 2024.
“This is not a good idea in the short term,” he explained on Franceinfo.
At the end of November, the city hall led by Anne Hidalgo announced its intention to limit the speed on the ring road to 50 km/h after the Olympic Games (July 26-August 11, 2024), in addition to reserving one lane for carpooling.
According to the city hall, this measure aims mainly to reduce pollution and noise, especially at night for the 500,000 people who live in the immediate vicinity of this axis, often in popular neighborhoods.
The ring road, one of the main urban axes in Europe, is used by 1.2 million vehicles every day, mostly from the Paris region, and 80% of them only have the driver as the occupant.
“If the minister intends to obstruct the project, let him clarify how he plans to do so,” Grégoire said, accusing him of “purely political posturing.”
“It is unthinkable to make such a change without a precise impact study, and especially without in-depth consultation with the region, the departments, the municipalities concerned,” as “80% of ring road users come from the suburbs.”
Parisian right-wing elected officials, through Senator Agnès Evren, welcomed “having been heard” by the Minister of Transport. The regional president (LR) Valérie Pécresse had denounced a decision based on “pure selfishness” and which “will affect primarily users who drive at night or early in the morning.”
Rather than defending a “real social measure,” Mr. Beaune, “candidate for the mayor of Paris,” prefers to “twist the arm of the City of Paris,” retorted Fatoumata Koné, leader of the Green elected officials of Paris.
Beaune and Grégoire are among the potential candidates to succeed Hidalgo as mayor of Paris in 2026.
If this new showdown between the City Hall and the State is part of a long list in recent months (working hours for municipal employees, pension reform…), it reinforces political tensions seven months before the Paris Olympics, which the three politically opposed powers (Macronist government, right-wing region, and left-wing city hall) must successfully carry out together.
At the end of November, Anne Hidalgo had sparked a previous controversy by stating that “there are places where transportation will not be ready” for the Olympics “because there will not be enough trains and frequency.”
After mentioning a “political betrayal,” Clément Beaune accused Hidalgo on Thursday of “spitting on our country by saying ‘we are useless, we are not ready, we won’t make it.'”
Socialist elected officials Lamia El Aaraje and Rémi Féraud, close to the mayor, demanded an apology from her.
Another ripe point of contention: on Tuesday, the Paris city hall asked Valérie Pécresse to reconsider the almost doubling of the metro ticket price decided to finance the additional effort during the Olympics.
“It is primarily the people of Paris and France who will pay for this exceptional pricing that is not justified,” Grégoire reiterated on Thursday.