Saturday, June 23, 2007

What the bombs couldn't take away the selfish commuter will

okay,maybe that's a bit dramatic....however....

Dresden was destroyed more than once in its history. Long before the infamous bombing at the end of WWII, Dresden saw wars. It had been burned to the ground before.
Buildings have come and gone. But one thing that has remained constant through Dresden's 800 years and before is the expanse of grass though the middle of the city on either side of the Elbe and the fantastic views that result. For hundreds and hundreds of years people have flocked to the Elbe. It's such a rarity for a flood plain through the middle of a city to be so preserved, so undeveloped, acres of grass extending miles. When I interviewed here I took a break and walked 100 meters north of the institute and came upon a vast field of grass and then a river with a view of several small castles on the other side. This is not far from the city center geographically.

And now the city has plans to build a bridge just about where I stood during my interview.
The citizens of Dresden voted for this bridge. With it comes the promise to alleviate traffic problems for those that live north of the river.

But there is no traffic in Dresden, let's be honest. There is a bad intersection at the end of the 'Blaues Wonder' - a historic bridge connecting the banks on the East side of town. But funneling the cars to the new place will just move the problem - there is no major thouroughfare coming in from this part of the city. The proposed main street dead ends into the 'Grosse Garten' - another large land area preserved. Perhaps the car-owning voters would like to simply move the Palace there and split the garden in two.
There was an article in the paper a while back about how people who have lived in DD their whole lives are FOR the bridge, while people who have moved here recently are AGAINST the bridge. Actually, they also broke it up and polled people who were born here, or came here BEFORE 1990, in other words, before the wall came down, and those that came after.


(I took this photo before I knew about the bridge - right about where it will go)


Twice as many people in the before group want the bridge as don't. While in the after group it's basically even.
The man-on-the-street comments they have with this article, though, they are sad.
Torsten, moved here, against the bridge (translated): "...it' s a beautiful,one-of-a-kind view the bridge will cut in half...

Mario, been here, for: "Ich bin für den Bau der Brücke, weil ich so schneller auf Arbeit komme." and "Touristen kommen auch ohne Welterbetitel nach Dresden". In English: "I am for the building of the bridge, so I can get to work that much faster." "Tourists will still come to Dresden without this world-title (the UNESCO world heritage site)."

And than about sums it up. If I can get to work 5 mintes faster, lets do it. And this whole thing with the tourists. Is anybody really arguing that tourism will die?? (really, I don't know) It seems like this argument was invented by those for the bridge in the first place so they could say it's a bad argument. who cares about tourists? It's about preserving a historical, one-of-a-kind beautiful precious piece of nature. You know, these things have worth other than tourism.

Stephanie, for:
"Es wurde schon so viel Geld in die Plannung gesteckt, dass die Brücke nun auch gebaut werden muss."
or, "There has been so much money already put into the planning, that the bridge must also now be built"

This seems to be another favorite of the pro-bridge camp. We've spent so much money already (even though construction hasn't even begun) that we MUST continue and BUILD IT!!!
Apparently, millions have already been spent in the planning and contracts for this bridge. Apparently construction crews are being paid NOW, to be on standby when the final green lights come through. Apparently, with the amount that has already been wasted, and considering what it will cost to finally build this bridge, if it goes to completion this bridge is already forecast to be the most expensive in all of Germany!! (source: my colleague Tim. sorry, no links. But Tim's good with the facts. Tim's a guy you go to when you're having a problem with the German system, he'll sort you (or them) out)

So the most expensive AND potentially the ugliest eyesore in Germany.

The bridge in the middle is the proposed bridge, the two on the ends existing.
Notice how it slices the large meadows nicely


But it's not a done deal. Because it's not as simple as Dresden voting for the bridge.
I think a lot of people who didn't vote on this issue are wishing they did - many that don't want the bridge. Who would've thought a majority of Dresden would be for it when it only affects a fraction?
But what's complicating things is this: This area of the Elbe is a UNESCO world heritage site, and UNESCO had threatened to remove the title if the bridge goes up. So why didn't the voters know about this? Well,
it turns the original plans, when UNESCO was informed, said that the bridge was to be TWO KILOMETERS upstream of where it actually was to be. UNESCO had no problem with this, and none of the voters could have been aware of what would follow.


This will have implications for all of Germany actually. Namely, that Germany cannot be trusted with UNESCO sites. It's bad pub. And the people in Berlin are watching this closely - and can pull funds if they want to.

There's been a proposal for a TUNNEL - that will cost the same as the bridge. But this whole thing is political as well. Many of the politicians who want this bridge were in the government since before the wall came down - and they wanted the bridge then. And they are going to get their bridge. it's a matter of pride.

Here' s a website for the initiative to stop the bridge: In English and even with more info in German. Check it out if you live here. There's a ton of info there.

I don't anticipate still being in Dresden when the bridge would finally be completed. But it would be a crying shame to come back and see that monstrosity hulking over the very path I used to ride my bike to and from work over the grassy plains along the Elbe.




1 comment:

Sabine said...

I really hope that Dresden will make the best out of yesterday's decision of the World Heritage Committee and decide against building the bridge. And not just continue with the planning because of administrative reasons.