Thursday, April 07, 2011

Controversial Mosel Bridge in EU "Wine Country" Paused for Coalition Negotiations Between the Social Democratic Party and the Environmentalist Green Party

On March 3, 2011, prior to elections in the German Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) we posted at LawPundit about the highly controversial 158-meter high and over 1-mile long bridge planned to be built over the Moselle (Mosel) River right through the center of one of the world's leading wine-producing regions -- see Winemakers Unite to Oppose the Building of an Ugly and Unnecessary Bridge over the Moselle River in Germany's Famed Mosel Wine Region. But is it TOO LATE?

We are glad to report that the fantastic result of that election is that the building of the monstrous planned Moselle bridge has been paused for post-election coalition negotiations, for the reason that a major aspect of the political platform of the Alliance '90/The Greens, who emerged from the elections as the political party of the hour, was strong opposition to the bridge.

To get some idea of the gigantic size of this bridge, 158 meters is the same height as the Telecommunications Tower, Torre de las Telecomunicacione viz. Torre Antel (Antel Tower) in Montevideo, Uruguay, the tallest building in the country!

Full resolution‎ (480 × 640 pixels, file size: 64 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) 
Torre de las Telecomunicaciones, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Foto realizada y subida por Federico Corral (aka Shant)

For the planned Mosel Bridge, just extend that height one mile horizonally and add 25,000 tons of steel over one of the most picturesque rural wine-producing areas in the world and you know that some misguided planners' delusions of grandeur have reached their limit.

Here, for comparison, from the German Wikipedia website (Hochmoselübergang) are "before" and "after" images of what the countryside looks like now and what it will look like if this monstrous bridge is built as planned. These gigantic pillars for the Mosel are essentially equivalent to putting a dozen skyscrapers in the middle of French Bordeaux. Would France ever even think of doing such a crazy thing?

The elections are now over and the German environmental party, Alliance '90/The Greens, surely in part also because of the tragic tsunami wave in Japan and the subsequent nuclear catastrophe which has followed, made huge gains in Baden-Wuerttemberg, ousting Chancellor Merkel's CDU party.

Merkel's ruling party was absolutely destroyed there by stupidly supporting the planned demolition in Stuttgart of the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, a highly regarded cultural and architectural monument, in order to make way for a planned underground station. Police used water cannons to try to remove protestors, inciting even more opposition, and the ruling CDU party did not get the message that they were on the wrong side of the issue. They got what they deserved in the election -- they were ousted. As now written at Deutsche Welle:
"German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced a work freeze on a contentious rail project centered on the southwestern city of Stuttgart following recent state elections."
Baden-Wuerttemberg with its capital Stuttgart is the 3rd largest State in Germany, and corporate headquarters for inter alia Daimler [Mercedes-Benz], Porsche, Robert Bosch, Carl Zeiss, and SAP -- the largest software firm in Europe. Faced with the spectre of the CDU getting thrown out of government in that corporate-oriented State for being -- clearly -- on the wrong side of an important environmental issue, warning signs have gone up for politicians all over Germany.

In the Rhineland-Palatinate, the Alliance '90/The Greens picked up substantial environmental votes, enough votes to go from being completely out of the government previously, to now having to be included in coalition negotiations with the Social Democratic Party (SPD). That SPD, just as the minority Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the Palatinate, has up-to-now supported the bridge for economic reasons. What economic reasons? The bridge is being financed 80% by federal financing and those Euros for the Palatinate constitute the blood money for the otherwise unnecessary bridge.

Thankfully, the German voters are paying attention. In the March 27, 2011 Rhineland-Palatinate elections, this time it was the SPD that lost its ruling majority in the State, gaining 10% fewer votes than in 2006 in the Palatinate. It is a strong political message when Germany's two largest political parties are getting beaten badly because of environmental issues.

By contrast, the Alliance '90/The Greens surged from 4.6% in 2006 in the Palatinate-- not even reaching the 5% government-participation threshold -- to achieving a triumphal 15.4% in 2011, putting them solidly in the government and reaching a voting level they are unlikely to lose anywhere in the near future.

The environmental ramifications of the Fukushima nuclear accidents will be with us for years. MORE environmental protection, rather than less, will be the hallmark of successful politicians.

For Palatinate Minister-President Kurt Beck and the SPD to stay in power and to continue to govern, something has to give in the coalition negotiations, and it is going to be the building of the totally unnecessary monstrous bridge over the Moselle River. That will have to go.

Representatives from the CDU have been quoted post-election as saying that the bridge will be built anyway because of ca. €330 million contracts that have been granted viz. planned for construction of the project.

We are not sure about that.

Those contracts are no hindrance to stopping the bridge.

There is of course no reason to cost people their jobs just because you end an unnecessary construction project. Those same construction firms can be put to work for the same money repairing the roads, bridges and highways that ALREADY EXIST and in part are in a dilapidated state of repair. There is plenty of work to be done.

Or, in a worst case scenario, one could maintain the road-building as planned, but replace the monstrous bridge with a normal "human-size" bridge as already found on the Mosel elsewhere and as suited to a wine-growing and tourist area.

Most people on the Mosel could probably live with that.

Roads and bridges over rivers are necessary in moderation -- but not the monstrous bridge planned for the Mosel. That is NOT necessary.

If the politicians in Berlin still want this monstrous bridge built as a job generator (Arbeitsbeschaffungsmaßnahme), we suggest they try to put it in the middle of Berlin on the Ku'damm (Kurfürstendamm) and see what happens. That would be no different than putting that same bridge here on the Mosel.

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