Photo/IllutrationAn artist's rendition of the Midosuji street in 2037, all traffic lanes of which will have been developed into a walkway (Provided by the Osaka city government)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

OSAKA--Midosuji, the elegant ginko tree-lined boulevard that cuts through the city center, may well be transformed into a pedestrian precinct by 2037.

That's according to a proposal by a local commemorative committee to mark the centenary of the completion of the arterial road that mainly runs through business districts and is heavily congested.

The avenue, 4.2 kilometers long and 44 meters wide, boasts pockets of high-end shops, boutiques and restaurants.

“I want to develop Midosuji into a space where a great many people can congregate,” said Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who chairs the committee. “We plan to convert it from a road primarily for cars to one mainly for pedestrians, while maintaining its traditional aspects.”

A committee comprising officials from the Osaka city government, a local economic group and other parties in the community released the proposal March 30 to convert nearly all the traffic lanes running north to south into walkways.

The national road that connects the Umeda and Nanba districts was completed in 1937 and is operated by the Osaka city government.

Midosuji consists of four to seven main lanes for traffic, with a supplementary traffic lane on each side in some sections.

Working with the Kinki Regional Development Bureau, the Kansai Economic Federation and other parties, the municipality established the committee in November 2016 to celebrate the thoroughfare's 80th anniversary.

The panel proposed creating a 15-meter-wide footway by integrating the current 6-meter-wide walkway, supplementary lane and grass strip.

The partial conversion of traffic lanes into footways will be completed by 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, between Sennichimaedori street and the Dotonborigawa river.

The work will be finished between Dotonborigawa and the Yodoyabashi bridge by 2025, as Osaka aims to host an international exposition that year.

It is envisaged that open-air cafes and rest areas will also be set up, with the new walkways used as event venues.

After the partial conversion, Osaka city will redevelop all parts of the 3-km section of Midosuji linking Yodoyabashi with Nankai Nanba Station into a pedestrian street by 2037 at the earliest.

In preparation for this, Osaka city will draw up a redevelopment plan after inviting public input in late April. Based on the plan, the municipality will discuss the project with Osaka prefectural police, which is in charge of traffic control of Midosuji, and start the work if there are no hitches.