In this other article in the Greater Paris dossier, which was begun in our previous issue and continues this month, Jean-Pierre Orfeuil re-examines how the project that led to the choice of the “New Greater Paris” option unfolded, with its potential role in the building of the Paris region into a metropolitan entity featuring as a backdrop.
Orfeuil first goes over the aspects that have to be taken into account in the development of a metropolis, then examines the possible role of the various types of transport in the precise case of the Île-de-France region and outlines the various rival initial projects (“Arc Express”, “Grand Huit” etc.), which ultimately culminated in the New Greater Paris metro project. He particularly stresses the power struggles, both local and national, that surrounded the choice and development of the project. He then recaps the criticisms of the initial plans and shows how the compromise reached developed in response to a number of these. He highlights the problems and questions that remain unresolved (particularly regarding the evaluation of the project, its grandiose character, the risk of spiralling costs etc.) and bemoans the “collateral damage” caused by the project and by the state’s intervention in it. Lastly, Orfeuil shows what alternative or complementary paths could have been followed, before drawing conclusions on the various lessons to be learned from this “venture” with regard to governance and —local and national— political decision-making.