The project to widen the picturesque winding road to Kayaköy has begun. It started with the felling of hundreds of massive old pine trees and is likely to end with a wider, possibly straighter, asphalt road.
Reactions to the road are polarised; some people are looking forward to what they see as an easier drive and opportunities for development. Others see it as an environmental and historical catastrophe. They aren’t happy at all.
A national story
At the end of last year we reported the closing of the Fethiye to Kayaköy road. Until recently there has been little information in the public domain, even though it is a big project. In the last few days, however, both the local and national press here in Turkey have published stories.
These focus on the main arguments for and against the project. Those in favour of the road look forward to the new highway. They think it will be a bonus for development and tourism in the valley. Those against speak in negative terms; the felling of many trees, the loss of a ‘Nostalji Yolu’ and future environmental problems.
It’s all about the width
Reports in the Turkish media confirm the widening of the existing road by three metres. Also there will be fewer hair-pin bends and the entire 9 km, from Fethiye to Kaya will be asphalt.
The road, like the rest of the Fethiye area, is now under the control of the Muğla Metropolitan Municipality. In December Muğla’s Public Works Department put signs on the road at both ends, effectively closing it to traffic.
Since then 506 pine trees have been cut down, and the road works will begin as soon as the weather improves. Evidently, the plan is to complete the work by March 2017.
As with many projects in Fethiye, especially those in Kayaköy, there are several discrete camps.
Some people think it is an excellent idea and with the implementation of the İmar plan (development plan) will mean the Kaya valley is open for business, that is development and tourism. There are also those who believe this to be another well-organised protect by Muğla authorities to improve Fethiye’s road network.
Indeed, a written statement from Muğla Metropolitan Municipality, said “the work was initiated at the request of citizens.” This was first submitted to the Special Provincial Administration of Muğla in 2008 and is in “accordance with the decision of the Directorate of Protection of Cultural Assets of Muğla.”
…Or bad news?
On the other hand, for others it is seen as the destruction of nature, a nostalgic, quaint and much-loved winding country lane. For them it is another nail in Kayaköy’s and the local area’s coffin.
Many who live or holiday in the valley say they look forward to reaching the quiet, windy road. A typical response was, “It is great to be alway from the city, in the forest and on my way to beautiful Kayaköy! I dont understand why this needs to be done.” Another was “Driving along the road under the pine canopy is is pure joy… It’s like going back in time; Kayaköy is so special. Why can’t we keep it as it is?”
Also, not surprisingly, as with all plans relating to Kayaköy, nobody wanted their names used.
Future problems for the road?
However, the local branch of TEMA are clearly voicing their concerns for all to hear. The clearing of the trees, maquis and undergrowth, they say, together with the widening, could cause huge problems with run-off in the event of heavy rain. This in turn could result in problems for the homes and buildings at either end of the road.
Okyay Tirli, the Fethiye representative of TEMA told the press told Hürriyet, “When we have an alternative transportation route to Kayaköy, which is 22 meters wide and conforms to highway standards, why do we cut the forest trees? We say ‘no’ to widening the old ‘Nostalgia Road’.”
No yellow brick roads for Kayaköy
The arrival of grey concrete blocks in Kaya, already popular for road surfaces in other residential districts of Fethiye, indicates that the paving of roads in the valley is on the cards.
The Kayaköy story
Whatever the case, it’s happening. But who knows what will happen next? All we can say is, the Kayaköy story has many miles left to run.