90 years construction site: Incredible farce around the world’s most expensive motorway


Incredible farce around the world’s most expensive motorway

90 years construction site: Incredible farce around the world's most expensive motorway-

Deceptive idyll: The A44 motorway is supposed to lead through nature reserves. The Federal Administrative Court decides whether this is legal

Source: Gerald Hanel / Jalag-Syndication.de / Gerald Hanel

Stuttgart 21, Airport BER, now the Autobahn 44: Billions of tax money are also to be buried in Hesse. A court is now clarifying whether a lane will be drawn across nature reserves.

F.For Gunther Krause, life always went a little faster. As a “travel cadre”, the Eastern CDU functionary with a doctorate was not bound by the narrow borders of the GDR. In 1989 the qualified engineer praised Erich Honecker as an outstanding statesman – by then the SED chief had long since resigned.

Nevertheless, Krause made it to State Secretary in the de Maizière cabinet during the fall of the Berlin Wall, signed the German Unification Treaty with Wolfgang Schauble and became Minister for Special Tasks in the first all-German Kohl Cabinet and then Federal Minister of Transport from 1991 to 1993.

During his short term in office, Krause had a whole series of motorway projects through the Bonn Bundestag in so-called "action laws".

In 2013, the whole of Germany was occupied by the motorways from Krause’s “German Unity Transport Project”. Whole Germany? No! In a tiny corner of Hesse, the former border area near Eschwege, the last of the Krause autobahns simply does not want to be finished.

Lawsuit against the planning approval decision

Through the sparsely populated but idyllic mountainous region around the Hohe Meibner, where the lynx and black stork say hello, the Hessian Transport Minister Florian Rentsch (FDP) wants to cut a path across nature reserves for Autobahn 44, which his former federal colleague Krause had ordered at the time. The nature conservation organization BUND has sued the plan approval decision. The proceedings will start on March 13th before the Leipzig Federal Administrative Court.

Not only environmentalists assume that this route is as pointless as it is overpriced. Generations had worked unsuccessfully on the 64.3 kilometer section between Kassel and Eisenach. The first construction work began in 1940, and a motorway bridge from this time still stands lost in the forest near Kassel. The war and the division of Germany made further construction impossible. Only Krause put the former Reichsautobahn back on the agenda.

Nevertheless, there was no construction. In the euphoria of the unit, the motorway planners had expected an increase in traffic (60,000 cars per day), but Hesse’s Prime Minister Hans Eichel, who headed a red-green coalition, initially considered the expansion of federal highway 7 to be sufficient. A deal with Krause, which provided for the simultaneous expansion of an east-west rail link, made Hesse’s approval possible.

Amazing lobbying

The reality today is different. In fact, not only are there fewer cars in the region than predicted, but also absolutely fewer than at the time. If planning were based on today’s real numbers (a maximum of 17,000 cars per day) and not on the assumptions made in 1992, the motorway would have no chance of being approved.

But where billions in taxpayers’ money have to be spent on a motorway, there is also a clientele who collects these billions. In any case, Rentsch’s predecessor Dieter Posch appeared as a speaker and author in the Autobahn and concrete lobby. Incidentally, the chairman of the lobby association GSV is a long-time employee of Posch in the Hessian Ministry of Economics.

It was planned and planned, because it became clear that the north Hessian mountainous region with the many villages in the valley was perhaps no more suitable for the construction of a motorway than the Sahara for a windsurfing area. Should it ever be completed, it will be the most expensive motorway in the world with the second longest road tunnel in Germany (one kilometer longer than the Elbe tunnel), numerous bridges, a veritable hairpin, curves with a bank angle of up to 6.5 percent and a maximum speed of 80 km / h, where speed 100 may be driven on the partly parallel federal highway.

90 years of motorway construction

The "Auto-Bild", which is not suspected of forming a coalition with environmental activists, reprimanded the project under the title "Traffic planning 90 years of motorway construction site".

The real madness of this motorway only began with a re-planning of the route, the causes of which can no longer be precisely determined today. Originally, the idea was to let the motorway follow the B7 to Eisenach on a relatively straight and shorter line. There was then an intervention, allegedly by a village mayor with good contacts in the SPD state government at the time, whose private property would have been affected by the route.

In any case, according to current planning, the motorway bends almost at right angles to the south halfway through, and then turns again to the east in another bold volte. From a bird’s eye view, the route looks like a grass snake. The short Kassel-Eisenach autobahn became a Kassel-Wommen autobahn and a billion-dollar engineering miracle with 13 tunnels and 15 bridges, which, however, now has to contend with moving morphology and possibly swelling limestone.

Similar to Stuttgart 21, experts warn of the "water effectiveness" of the rock, especially in the area of ​​the so-called "Holstein tunnel", where construction will reach the limits of what is technically feasible. Resident mayors like Achim Rob from Kaufungen are already defending themselves against the planned dismantling of the B7. They fear “chaos because of the expected tunnel revisions.” It is clear that the service life of the tunnels will decrease drastically, from around 50 to around 15 years, on which a critical opinion from the Federal Court of Auditors is also available.

400 percent increase in costs

Transport Minister Krause planned the A44 at a cost of 460 million euros. As a result of the complex rescheduling, the estimates have now risen by 400 percent to almost two billion euros. An independent report by a sworn expert, which is available to the Hessian state government and also to the editorial team, expects a further ten percent increase in costs due to the complicated tunnel and bridge construction in the geologically active regions.

However, even if the Federal Administrative Court allows the building to continue and does not initiate any ecologically justifiable rescheduling, you will probably only know in ten years. Because even Hesse’s Transport Minister Rentsch no longer expects the complicated route to be completed before 2020 – exactly 100 years after the first plans for the then Reichsautobahn.

The A44 destroys a completely untouched hilly landscape, especially in the picturesque Ringgau, where the A44 turns away from the B7. Vice-District Administrator Rainer Wallmann’s hope of being able to "market the beautiful landscape in a sustainable and ecological way" should then be gone.

Every single kilometer of the new A44 will have cost taxpayers more than 28 million euros in the end – four to five times more than normal. But people not only have to fear the high costs, but also the destruction of the environment. Because the increased nitrogen input, which BUND warns of in favor of newts and wildcats, naturally also affects people in the neighboring communities.

BUND successfully sued plan sections of the A44 several times due to deficiencies in environmental law, but as early as 2007, before the start of planning approval, the authorities destroyed a nature reserve in the area of ​​the motorway route by barring the animals living there from their spawning areas with fences and hurdles. When the area was so ecologically devalued, a driveway was allowed to be built here.

The question that remains is who will actually use this motorway? Due to the complicated route, the A44 would be a detour on the way to Saxony and should be driven at a maximum of 80 km / h. Such routes are calculated by default by the navigation system. The new A38, which branches off to Leipzig near Gottingen, or the A4 through Thuringia are more attractive for east-west long-distance traffic.

The last hope of stopping a billion dollar waste of taxes now lies with the Federal Administrative Court, which does not decide on the sense and nonsense of the route, but on nature conservation. If the Leipzig judges uphold the environmental concerns raised by BUND, rescheduling to a shorter route, which is many hundreds of millions of euros cheaper, is possible, as even the Transport Minister Posch, who left office, had recently admitted.

In the FDP, his successor Rentsch is considered a beacon of hope. He has long been a member of the Federal Presidium of his party. He now has to prove his motto also in the case of the A44: "Straight lines are always the shortest way to the destination."

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