New Blaha Lujza Square visual design, Source: BKK

Rejuvenation of Budapest’s Blaha Lujza Square commences on Monday

Rejuvenation of Budapest’s Blaha Lujza Square commences on Monday

The result will be a green public square functioning both as a junction and a meeting point

The planned overhaul of Blaha Lujza Square will begin on Monday, 12 July with traffic curbs in place for 10 to 12 weeks, Samu Balogh, the Budapest mayor chief of staff announced at a press conference this week. The reconstruction of the iconic square, named after the famous Hungarian actress and singer Lujza Blaha, lovingly called “the nation’s nightingale”, has been long overdue.

Original design plans amended

Design agency Közlekedés Fővárosi Tervező Iroda Kft. won the public tender for the square’s new look way back in 2018. But following the local government elections in October 2019, the new city administration redesigned the plans for the square’s upgrade to bring them in line with the needs of the community, the challenges posed by climate change and the municipal budget shortfall. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the reconstruction further, but in June this year the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK) signed the final contract with the construction company STR Mély- és Magasépítő Kft.

The aim of the investment is to create a green public square that will simultaneously function as a junction and a meeting point, Balogh noted. To this end, the pedestrian-friendly spaces will be increased, and the network of service roads and car parking lots that currently fragment the area will be eliminated by creating additional green spaces with a total of 70 trees planted.  

The refurbished square will be wheelchair-accessible and will include a public toilet. The junction will be completely barrier-free, with resurfaced roads and pavements, tactile guide strips and new pedestrian crossings put in place, and restored upper insulation of the underpass. The centrepiece of the square – the iconic Mushroom Fountain, as well as the Theatre Memorial at the site of the demolished Hungarian National Theatre, will also undergo a facelift.

Traffic restrictions

Inevitably, the reconstruction works will entail traffic changes during the 12-week period. Car traffic at the junction of Rákóczi Avenue and the Grand Boulevard will be restricted to one lane in both directions.

The square will become a cordoned-off area for pedestrians and the bicycle lane will be temporarily deleted. Tram lines 4 and 6 will not be affected by the traffic restrictions.

Now, alongside the Chain Bridge and the Pest embankment, there will be three major renovations taking place simultaneously in downtown Budapest, so Samu Balogh asked residents for patience.

Project cost

According to László Horváth, the project’s operational manager, the cost of the overhaul totals HUF 3.47 billion (EUR 9.8 mln). The project is co-funded by the Municipality of Budapest and the Hungarian government, but due to rising construction prices Mayor Gergely Karácsony had to transfer some money from the renovation of the City Hall complex.

Moreover, the HUF 1 billion government share has been allocated on condition that it is utilized by the end of 2021. The reconstruction is scheduled to be completed in late 2022.

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