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Autobahn network 'needs a face lift' at 80

The Local · 6 Aug 2012, 08:21

Published: 06 Aug 2012 08:21 GMT+02:00

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"In the last decade the condition of the highway network has continually deteriorated," said ADAC traffic expert Wolfgang Kugele.

The German motorists' club ADAC blames a lack of federal investment. They say the government needs to spend more than the €5 billion it currently dishes out per year to maintain the road network.

Kugele said there was enough money to pay for improvements.

"Right now the toll for trucks alone brings is around €4.5 billion. That's slightly less than is invested in the highways as a whole," he said.

All told, German motorists currently pay about €53 billion annually in specific fees.

The country boasts approximately 12,845 kilometres of federal highways and 39,700 kilometres of federal roads, making it one of Europe's densest highway networks.

The autobahn network is also one of Germany's proudest achievements – and is internationally renowned for being one of the world's only motorways without a speed limit, though motorists are advised not to exceed 130 kmh.

The debate over whether to introduce a limit has raged for decades. Those that argue that saved lives and reduced emissions would be worth it are slowly gaining ground over those who cherish their right to drive their BMWs as fast as they want.

The autobahn network also has a darker side - Hitler was an enthusiastic proponent of the motorway and much of it was built during the Third Reich. But it was Konrad Adenauer – then mayor of Cologne who would later became the first West German chancellor – who opened the initial portion in 1932, to connect the cities of Cologne and Bonn.

Story continues below…

That stretch, known as the A555, was immortalized by the German electronic band Kraftwerk in their 1974 song “Autobahn”.

As the summer heats up and more German motorists hit the road during the school holidays, the wrinkles in the 80-year-old system may cause many to curse rather than cheer the Autobahn.

DAPD/The Local/sh

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:42 August 6, 2012 by smart2012
3 improvements:

1. Autobahn around frankfurth

2. Autobahn Munich-Salzburg

3. Last piece of Autobahn Munich-lindau

No way speed limit will be introduced in Germany due to car lobby. No limit is bad for environment and safety, however justifies sales of fast cars being made by German car producer lobby. Very simple explanation.
08:57 August 6, 2012 by yahma
The autobahn in Germany is about 10x better than the freeway system in California. I'm not sure what the ADAC is complaining about.
09:01 August 6, 2012 by zeddriver
I wish the US had as good a system as the Germans have. The US interstate highways are a mess and they are 30 years younger. Of course the US government built those highways to the absolute minimum possible standards.

There is one telling thing in this story. And it goes across most governmental offices. they took in 53 BIL. Euros and spent only 5 BIL. What happened to the other 48B. Most Gov. programs are the same. The management fees soaked up by government red tape and useless regulations is horrendous. Or in this case. Taking road/ fuel tax money and spending it on other things.

And you Europeans along with the Americans actually listen to the politicians tall tales of the oil companies making obscenely huge profits. 1.5-2 US cents per litre net profit. The US which has some of the lowest fuel tax (.50 US cents per 3.96 litres) of any developed country. That's 5000% more than the oil companies take in. That is truly obscene. And yet. The government is always telling us that to fix the roads. taxes will have to be raised.
11:22 August 6, 2012 by HHayrider
Part of the problem with the highway system in the US, is that individual states are responsible for a portion of the cost, with additional Federal funding. However, many states decide to take money from the highway fund to bolster their individual state general fund. When I was a cross country truck driver, I knew where I was by how bad, or good, the road was. Missouri and Arkansas had some of the worst. But, in 2002/03 Arkansas spent $600 million on rebuilding the entire interstate network in its boundries.

The sheer amount of traffic volumn, almost makes it impossible to make major improvements until the very last minute. A good example if the TriState tollway on the south side of Chicago and the Borman Expressway, where at one point, only 1 lane was open going west, and 2 going east, in one of the busier portions of the network.

I would gladly take the autobahn again. However, this last trip, we were spoiled to be in the north, where there wasnt as much traffic as there is in the south.
15:23 August 6, 2012 by catjones
The comparisons to the U.S. highway systems are spurious. DL is the size of Montana.

I recently drove from Arizona to Chicago (2870 km) and the roads were fast, smooth and clean....aka, first hand experience.
16:32 August 6, 2012 by raandy
Catjones, right on, i just returned from a trip across the USA and it was a pleasure, no one cutting 10 meters in front of me at 199 klicks ,no one screaming up behind me blinking their lights in frustration, it was a genuine pleasure to drive on the interstates with their frequent rest areas with tables and grills, mostly clean restrooms and no fees for their use, no jams for hours, I have no complaints.

I do dread the thought of Autobahn construction, it takes months to complete ,often no one is working.I saw company's working under lights all night long in the US, to speed up the completion time.

Please spare me the one sided comparison.
20:44 August 6, 2012 by zeddriver
@catjones, raandy

At one point in my life I was the owner of a small trucking firm connected to FedEx. Come on up to I-90 across South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana. Where the road is so rough. I've had coffee mugs fall over into my seat. To save money the concrete paving is half the thickness of the Autobahn. While at the same time the trucks are much heavier than in Europe. And of course for a fee of $15 USD you can buy a permit to go from 80,000 LBS up to 120,000 LBS. Not sure how the road knows to toughen up when a 120,000 lbs permit holder passes by though.

What about the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis killing a bunch of folks. Granted, Not all the highways in America are in terrible shape.

But the bigger point is. That for all the monies collected by the German, And American government through road tax, Fuel tax, Tolls. Those taxes were imposed by politicians who promised that monies collected were supposed to be reinvested in new construction as well as repair of existing roads. Something that both governments are failing to do.
22:01 August 6, 2012 by mayitoh
That's true!, BUT with what money can make the face-lift to the Autoban??? Oops!!! Merkel used all the money in her personal political project, in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain to keep the Euro-Titanic to avoid capsizing..... so from where it will be coming this money now?........ I know, from more German people taxes :-)))))))))
17:23 August 7, 2012 by franconia
Yes, Hitler was a proponent for the Autobahn, but he was not the " inventor" or brain behind the idea, like US media or German haters like to point out. I also do like the interstate system in the US per se, but the surfacing and pothole repair is atrocius. One more thing, Autobahn bridges built in 1930 with masonry will still be standing 900 years from now, like the one in Regensburg and Prague. Unfortunately a lot of them had to be removed to widen the Autobahn to 6 lanes. I cringe everytime I drive under an interstate bridge. Did you ever take a closer look? Not pretty, some are ready to be removed (or will collapse) after what, 30-40 years?
01:08 August 8, 2012 by Whipmanager
OK, anyone who has ever traveled often between Kaiserslautern and Ludwigshoffen know what I am saying: From Jan 1982 until Oct. 2000 every time I Itraveled to Frankfurt Airport the stretch of land around Bad Durkheim was consistently under construction, repair, re-construction you name it. I am not exaggerating. They waste money on work projects, they don't fix anything, and then in the perfect socialist way, they ask for more taxes. The Federal Govt there, like in the US, cannot seem to fix anything except a higher cost on life in our two countries. If you look at the road between Mannheim (Still talking about the A6) you will remember that the stretch between Frankfurt and Manheim also had similar problems.

I hate to say this but I believe that whomever is in charge of fixing the roads doesnt care to
13:34 August 8, 2012 by rmarquina
First of all the topic here is the German Autobahn, not the US highways.

2nd. I won't like to impose a speed limit here, but it is true that at lower speeds, you reduce the CO2 emissions. It's all about the efficiency of the engine. Every engine has its maximum efficiency at certain RPM; lower or higher RPM decrease the efficiency and therefore increase the CO2 emissions.
17:07 August 8, 2012 by raandy
zeddriver I have no doubt about your commercial driving experience.

and I also remember the bridge collapse in California.

The amount of highways in the USA dwarfs the road system here in Germany.If you were to compare the interstate system to the autobahn system here based on quality no doubt the autobahn would win, however if you compare the amount of quality roads I would be inclined to think the interstate system would be greater.

also services are far superior to here.
17:41 August 8, 2012 by zeddriver

Bottom line though. Both governments are collecting huge quantities of taxes from auto Reg fees, Fuel tax, Tolls on trucks. All to the tune of 53 billion Euro in the case of Germany. And how was the tax presented to the folks? I can hear it now. Politician says, If you let us raise the fuel tax, auto reg tax, Trucker toll charges. We will put all monies collected in an account that will only be used for the maint. and building of new roads. So. Herr Politician. My question would be. How many years have you been collecting 1000% more in road taxes than you have been spending on said roads. And when do I get my refund.
16:14 August 10, 2012 by Bruno53
Don't forget the German autobahn service helped Gen Eisenhower and Gen Patton, and British Marshall Montgomery, advanced their troops and equipments in 1945 to help defear Nazi Germany. And Eisenhower admired the engineering used to build these German highways that years later he proposed. as president of USA, a similar highway system in USA.
18:37 August 10, 2012 by henry1544
Obviously none of you have ever been to Norway.

Roadstandard like Romania, toll fees that equals yearly average income in a third world country and a carpark that is "Europe's oldest".

A car that costs 50 000 euros in Germany will cost 200 000 euros in Norway when they have taken all their taxes (weight tax, co2 tax etc)

You also have to pay a annual "Road tax" which today stands at around 500 euros. In addition to toll roads, fuel tax, co2 tax etc.

All in all, Norway has Europe's worst roads, the oldest car park and the highest tax level on anything connected to owning a car.

German cars and roads are just wet dreams for Norwegians.
00:49 August 11, 2012 by kkiwi54
"The autobahn network also has a darker side - Hitler was an enthusiastic proponent of the motorway and much of it was built during the Third Reich." So what! Is everything during the 12 years of National Solicialism "evil"? Did they do nothing good or worthwhile? Of course they did - Nazis weren't all bad, deal with it!
16:03 August 15, 2012 by beckyhead
At kkiwi54....

Oh I get it, the Nazi's were just misunderstood. Is that it?
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