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Mosel Valley bridge to be built in wine country

Published: 03 May 2011 16:52 GMT+02:00

Pro-Mosel, a group of vintners, businesspeople and residents of southwestern Germany's scenic Mosel Valley, said they were shocked by the outcome of state coalition talks late Monday in Rhineland-Palatinate that gave the green light to the bridge.

The group was particularly incensed by a U-turn by the Green party, which had campaigned during hard-fought elections in the state in March against the four-lane motorway crossing.

Opponents, including powerful international wine critics, say the project is an eyesore that could destroy the delicate alchemy of the vineyards' steep slate slopes, drip irrigation and sun exposure that create stellar white wines.

The bridge has been a source of great discord in the area. Werner Schmitz, who lives in Ürzig, a town that will be in the shadow of the new bridge, told The Local last year that 90 percent of residents are for the bridge. “We need this bridge to bring in more tourists,” he said.

But anti-bridge campaigner Knut Aufermann said some people don’t understand the value of unspoilt scenery that the bridge will allegedly destroy. “We fear for the valley. It is going to be dead in 10 years’ time,” he said.

Click here for a photo gallery of the Mosel Valley.

The Hochmoselübergang (Upper Mosel Crossing) has been in the works since 1968 at the height of the Cold War, when the tens of thousands of US troops stationed in the region sought a speedier link between their bases.

The intervening years were marked by revised plans, court challenges and impact studies which the opponents say failed to address their key concerns.

Then came a decisive 2008 stimulus package. At a cost of an estimated €330 million ($488 million), the project would be an east-west supplement to Germany's road network, already one of the densest in the world. It is slated for completion in 2016.

The plan's centrepiece would be a 1.7-kilometre-long (one-mile-long), 10-column bridge spanning two low mountains at a height of 158 metres, tall enough for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to fit beneath with room to spare.

Construction on the project began two years ago but a record 15-percent result in the state election by the Greens led opponents to hope they could stop it.

However the Greens on Monday ceded to their new coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democrats, with state party leader Eveline Lemke admitting that approving the bridge project was the "toughest thing to swallow" in the talks.

AFP/The Local/mdm

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:28 May 3, 2011 by poppet
Years-long battle?????????????? STILL no copyreader????????
19:29 May 3, 2011 by catjones
Grow hops on the pillars.
19:54 May 3, 2011 by auniquecorn
Open a bungie jumping stand.
20:12 May 3, 2011 by FredFinger
Why can't they make a little bridge down there at the river instead of a big one?
23:42 May 3, 2011 by pepsionice
If only you could confine Germans to never drive more than 30 km's from their home. If only you could make gas 22 Euro per liter and stop consumption. If only you could convince Germans to all drive 2-cylinder cars. If only we could convince all Germans to just live in a modest style with only 1400 calories a day.

There's this list of things that really improve German society....but I kinda doubt that we can ever convince people to be this stupid.
00:52 May 4, 2011 by krautrock
That bridge is really ugly: an insult to architecture.

It seems that Germany is run by people who hate their country and the guy who says that that bridge will bring them more tourists is nuts.

Maybe the Greens changed their mind because they finally realized that the height of the bridge is more or less the same of a wind turbine: they love wind turbines therefore the bridge should be ok for them now.
07:52 May 4, 2011 by StoutViking
@ pepsionice - Well, the Greens and the Reds are trying, and they're on the right track.

And yeah, I don't think the bridge will bring more tourists. If you want to promote tourism in this area (and I worked in the industry for a while) you got to have more than 1 brain cell to rub together and realize that it's not highways that bring tourists, but what unique experiences the region has to offer, and the Mosel valley is vallued for its wine, nature, and Roman history in the area. With a region rich in wine, the last thing you want is tourists driving cars. Lower train prices, for heaven's sake. Some of my flight tickets to Germany cost me less than the ride from the airport to my final destination...

...Great, now I got an itch to spend another birthday on the Mosel with a tall glass.
11:30 May 4, 2011 by jamano
Bridges are not ugly. To change the design a bit so everyone could be happy.
14:50 May 4, 2011 by jbaker
Ah! A nice,big target for WW III. There go the hops and the the good beer. The wine will be safe.
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