Denmark and Germany agree on bridge

29th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 June 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Denmark and Germany struck a deal Friday after years of wrangling to build one of Europe's biggest bridges, linking Hamburg and Copenhagen across an arm of the Baltic Sea. Germany had been cool to demands to guarantee half the cost of the 19-kilometre bridge across a strait, the Fehmarn Belt, where big auto ferries currently depart both ways every 30 minutes, day and night. Just before German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and Danish counterpart Flemming Hansen emerged f

29 June 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Denmark and Germany struck a deal Friday after years of wrangling to build one of Europe's biggest bridges, linking Hamburg and Copenhagen across an arm of the Baltic Sea.

Germany had been cool to demands to guarantee half the cost of the 19-kilometre bridge across a strait, the Fehmarn Belt, where big auto ferries currently depart both ways every 30 minutes, day and night.

Just before German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and Danish counterpart Flemming Hansen emerged from talks in Berlin to announce the plan, news media reported the leaked news that a deal had been done.

The Danish news agency Ritzau and the German newspaper Luebecker Nachrichten said they had settled how to share the cost of state guarantees for the bridge between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland.

"We've had a breakthrough in the talks," the German newspaper quoted a German Transport Ministry official saying.

The Danish media said construction would begin in 2011 and be completed by 2018, with Denmark entirely guaranteeing the loans for the cost of the bridge itself while Germany would post funds for approaches from the south.

Including the approaches, the project is set to cost 5.5 billion euros(7.4 billion dollars).

Denmark is keen to close the last gap in a highway and rail route from Copenhagen to Hamburg that has been under construction since pre-Nazi days and is known as the Flight of the Birds Route because it is the most direct, and is in fact followed by migratory birds.

The bridge would reduce travelling time between the cities by one hour to three and a half hours and attract traffic from an existing fixed route via the Jutland peninsula.

The companies to be awarded the bridge concession must try to recover the cost by charging tolls. The decision is a blow to ferry operator Scandlines which has the concession to provide the current 24-hour-per-day shipping link over the strait.

The bridge would be one of Europe's biggest upcoming transport projects, but the project faces protests from environmentalists.

DPA

Subject: German news

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