The motorway is the only German autobahn, going directly into a 30 kilometre low speed zone. , Source: City of Berlin

Study: If Berlin demolishes this 1970s motorway, the city will be better off

Study: If Berlin demolishes this 1970s motorway, the city will be better off

Breitenbachplatz feature a 500-metre-long, raised, four-lane double overpass – quite excessive for a quiet suburb

On 29 December, Berlin authorities announced the results of a feasibility study on removing car infrastructure in the city’s Breitenbachplatz. According to the results, the square would benefit enormously in terms of quality of life and maintenance costs if the city decides to dismantle the raised concrete car bridge flanking the green area.

Moreover, officials have called the overpass a ‘relic of a bygone car-friendly era’ and the source of a quality of life drop in the area. Also, numerous citizen-led organisations have been campaigning for the demolition of the 500-metre-long four-lane double bridge for years, a mishap of ‘70s car-centric city planning in West Berlin.

Maintaining the bridge will be expensive

The feasibility study for dismantling the bridge on Breitenbachplatz was first commissioned in June 2019 and carried out by the Berlin Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection (SenUMVK).

The study examined 10 variants and the traffic, urban planning, ecological and financial ramifications of the move, as well as a redesign of the square. The main result: dismantling the former motorway bridges, now a connection to the city motorway, is technically feasible and manageable in terms of traffic.

Variants 1 and 3 proved to be most beneficial. Variant 1 proposes traffic is routed at ground level via the square and then continues through the tunnel under the Schlangenbader Straße (ÜBS) superstructure. Variant 3, on the other hand, calls for the tunnel connection to also be closed to offer more opportunities to change traffic in the area and move away from cars.

Also, in both variants, the bridge structures over the Breitenbachplatz are no longer required and can be dismantled. Moreover, doing nothing would also be a bad option, as maintaining the bridge’s roadworthiness would mean high repair costs for the local administration and discourage a less traffic-focused redesign of the square.

Mobility Senator Bettina Jarasch was quoted in a press statement explaining that Berlin is inclined to gradually dismantle the car-friendly city and move towards a people-friendly city. The bridges, which were constructed in the 1970s as an urban freeway are, as she continued, a very stark example of that past.

Additionally, the study showed that losing the bridge would not in any way ‘break’ local traffic. On the contrary, it would allow for redesigning of the square with more space for greenery, children and outside living.



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