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30 Mar 2022, 13:58
Benjamin Wehrmann

Autobahn project in central Berlin causes stir among government parties

Berliner Morgenpost / Der Tagesspiegel

An announcement by Germany’s federal transport ministry (BMDV) to expand a motorway in the centre of Berlin has caused a stir among local politicians and could also lead to controversies in the federal government. The state secretary in the transport ministry, Daniela Kluckert from the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), told Berliner Morgenpost in an interview that Autobahn A100 would be expanded several kilometres into Berlin’s eastern center. “We need the motorway to ease the pressure on inner city traffic and connect East and West. Businesses need to get through the city fast to do their jobs,” Kluckert said. Planning for the new segment of the A100 should be finished by 2025, she added. The announcement by the FDP-led ministry was rejected by Berlin’s city government, which has no say in motorway projects managed by the federal government. Berlin’s mayor, Franziska Giffey from the Social Democrats (SPD), said her city government with the Green Party and the Left Party had agreed in their coalition treaty that plans to expand the motorway should not be continued until at least 2026, newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported. “That’s a binding agreement,” Giffey said, arguing that she expected the federal government to enter into a dialogue with the city even though the city of Berlin formally has no influence on the autobahn’s construction. The current A100 motorway still is partly under construction and there would be no final concepts how to integrate the latest segment already under construction into city traffic management, she said.

Berlin’s transport minister, Bettina Jarasch from the Green Party, said the motorway was a relic of “transport policy from the day before yesterday,” and that Berlin needed a real mobility transition rather than a new autobahn. “Instead of destroying inner cities with multi-lane roads, we need to invest in public transport, in trains and buses, in bicycle and pedestrian lanes, in connected mobility.” Jarasch said the space taken up by the motorway could be used for many other and more urgent purposes instead. “I expect the transport ministry to ultimately come up with a better idea.” The city’s Left Party said it mulls litigation with Germany’s constitutional court to halt the autobahn’s expansion. The project could also become a bone of contention for the federal government coalition of the SPD, Green Party and FDP. The Green parliamentary group’s transport politician, Stefan Gelbhaar, said the federal government had agreed to jointly debate motorway projects. “Such a debate did not take place regarding the A100.” He said the move by the FDP-led ministry would be regrettable and that his party would oppose “this infrastructure disaster from the last century” by all means possible. The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), opposition leaders in Berlin, welcomed the announcement, arguing it would bring citizens “many advantages.”

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