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PARIS, March 13 (AFP) - The centre of Paris will be largely traffic-free from 2012 under a development project drawn up by the office of the city's left-wing mayor, according to a newspaper report Sunday.
Entitled "Traffic reduction in central neighbourhoods," the plan calls for a ban on the cars of non-residents and on tourist buses in a 5.6 square kilometre (2.1 square mile) area north of the river Seine, the Journal de Dimanche newspaper said.
In earlier phases which could start as early as this year, several major road axes including the densely-used river-bank throughway would be closed to traffic, cycle routes opened and parking fees for non-residents hiked.
The project was finalised in December and the office of socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe is now considering how best to communicate the ideas to the public, the paper said.
The project would directly affect 102,000 people - 4.8 percent of the population - living in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements, or districts, from the Place de la Bastille in the east to the Place de la Concorde in the west.
Car ownership in this area is lower than in the rest of the capital, with only one household in four possessing a vehicle, the newspaper reported.
The project is likely to have a mixed reception - supported by many residents but opposed by some business interests.
"The plan will turn Paris into a ghetto and cut off the capital from its hinterland. The car is indispensable to economic and cultural activity," Christian Gerondeau, president of the National Federation of Automobile Clubs, told the Journal de Dimanche.
Paris last week presented its bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, with respect for the environment a key part of its application.
Subject: French News
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