Danish MPs approve bridge to Germany
The project, which has yet to be ratified by the German parliament, is set to be the largest road and railway construction project in northern Europe ever and one of the biggest infrastructure projects on the continent.Copenhagen -- Danish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favour of the construction of a giant bridge linking Denmark and Germany across the Fehmarn strait in the Baltic Sea.
The project, which has yet to be ratified by the German parliament, is set to be the largest ever road and railway construction project in northern Europe and one of the biggest infrastructure projects on the continent.
A total of 104 Danish members of parliament voted in favour, while just three members of the opposition far-left Unity List party objected to the plan.
The 19-kilometre (12-mile) road and rail link will stretch from Roedbyhavn (150 kilometres south of Copenhagen) to Puttgarden in northern Germany.
Denmark and Germany signed a treaty in September 2008, agreeing to build the link.
The bridge, which is scheduled to open in 2018, is expected to cost 5.6 billion euros (8.1 billion dollars), with Denmark footing 4.8 billion euros of the bill and Germany only paying for linking the bridge to its existing transport and infrastructure.
Once the project is completed, Copenhagen expects to be reimbursed for its expenses through user tolls.
Germany's parliament is expected to vote on the project in the coming months, a move seen largely as a formality.
Danish Transport Minister Lars Barfoed hailed parliament's "historic decision," noting that the link would "reduce the distance (by train) between Copenhagen and Hamburg by 150 kilometres (93 miles)."
The trip currently takes four hours by car, and would take three hours with the new link.
It would also make deliveries of goods between the two countries "shorter and cheaper."
Denmark already has two other major bridge and rail constructions: the Oeresund Bridge linking it to Sweden, and the Great Baelt Bridge between two of Denmark's main islands, Zealand and Funen.
The new link will make it possible to travel from northern Germany to eastern Denmark without having to pass through the continental part of the Scandinavian country.
There are currently ferries that link Roedbyhavn to Puttgarden.
Critics, including the Unity List party, have argued that the road traffic on the bridge will increase pollution, but Barfoed rejected the criticism.
He said the link would "lead to a fantastic upswing in Danish and European rail traffic," and predicted that around eight million tonnes of goods would be transported by train each year out of a total of 15 million.