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PalenQ Jul 16th, 2007 07:38 AM

Dresden Broohaha Over New Bridge?
I noted that in UNESCO's World Heritage list Dresden's historic old town by the riverfront was listed as being endagnered and could be removed from the list due to the construction of some new bridge.

Ingo or anyone can you give me more details just where this bridge would go and what the local discussion thinks about it.

Is it a go or on hold


Ingo Jul 16th, 2007 10:54 AM

Whoaaa, Pal, you don't have an idea ... it's a drama. The bridge divides the locals as much as the Bush administration's politics divides the Americans.

Firstly, it's not just the historic old town that's on the UNESCO list, it's the 'civilised landscape' along the river from a few miles upstream from Schloss Pillnitz to Schloss Übigau down the river. That's about 26 km long and includes the old town. One thing what is so special about it is that the river flows naturally through the city with meadows to both sides (except for a few hundred meters in the old town) - really a buccolic landscape dotted with vineyards, castles, mansions on the hillsides etc.

Soon after the wall came down the traffic increased and the authorities thought a new bridge needs to be built. They searched for a location and found that there is a long stretch between the old town and the Blue Wonder bridge w/o a bridge. Well, they planned to build the bridge right in the middle of that distance at a place called 'Waldschlösschen', famous for unspoilt landscape and stunning views of the old town. Of course it took time to plan ... and everybody thought that at some time they would stop and cancel the project ... because in the meantime the traffic was reduced more and more. And a new motorway was built that leads the transit traffic around the city.

So, a few years ago the local political parties of CDU and FDP (conservatives and economy friendly liberals) needed a topic for the upcoming elections, to stir up the pot :-) - and they decided to use the bridge.

In fact they managed to convince the locals that the bridge is urgently needed. Talk about spin doctors, faked expert opinions ... In 1995 we had a referendum with the result that about 60% of the locals voted 'yes' - for the bridge. Then the trouble started. The anti-bridge locals informed the UNESCO. The UNESCO said the bridge is not tolerable and as you wrote threatens to remove Dresden from the World Heritage list.

The problem is that the German government never bothered to transfer the UNESCO rules into German law. So lawsuits against the bridge were not successful; even the highest German court decided 'the votes of the citizens are to value higher'.

But nobody asked the locals after the UNESCO threated to remove Dresden from the list. Not in a referendum, only in polls. And the polls say that the Dresdners would rather have the title 'UNESCO heritage' than a bridge.

Alternatives like a tunnel or even a much more gracious bridge, the current design is awful, ugly, massive - are blocked by the Saxon government, especially the prime minister.

Honestly, I don't see a chance that the bridge - that nobody needs - will NOT be built. It's sad.


swandav2000 Jul 16th, 2007 11:03 AM

Ah, what lovely memories, Ingo!

That walk from the Blue Wonder Bridge to the Old Town along the fields and historic villas was truly wonderful (even in the winter wind!). Thanks for such a nice shot of memory!


Ingo Jul 16th, 2007 01:21 PM

Hi S! Yeah, that was a great walk ... and I know how much you hate wind :( And I told you about this bridge, eh?

DAX Jul 16th, 2007 01:33 PM

Hi Ingo,

<< A few years ago the local political parties of CDU and FDP (conservatives and economy friendly liberals) needed a topic for the upcoming elections, to stir up the pot - and they decided to use the bridge>>

I thought "a few years ago" Merkel & Westerwelle were practically running together as a ticket to take over the rein from SPD. I am wondering who would impose such an unpopular bridge, the CDU or FDP? It doesn't make sense to me as an outsider. Is the bureaucracy in Dresden so debilitating or is the bridge construction company doing a great job in their lobbying?

altamiro Jul 16th, 2007 01:39 PM

Ingo meant the elections on the state level in Saxonia, not on the federal level.

swandav2000 Jul 16th, 2007 01:48 PM

Yes, I remember your discussion on it as we passed the tranquil scene. It would be such a disruption! Your city is so beautiful (for a city!!)!


DAX Jul 16th, 2007 01:57 PM

Sorry to have missed the fact that Ingo wrote "local", still I don't understand which party would continue to push the building of such an unpopular bridge considering that traffic has already normalized.

PalenQ Jul 17th, 2007 07:07 AM

or at least if necessary a tunnel???

Ingo Jul 17th, 2007 11:08 AM

sorry, I was not clear in my message. Yes, it's a local thing. The prime minister (Milbradt, CDU) is pro bridge, the minister for commerce and transportation (Jurk, SPD) is contra bridge, the city's parliament is contra bridge, the mayor is, well, suspended because of bribery and the stand-in mayor has no opinion at all ...

Milbradt and his CDU party are too stubborn. And it's difficult for them to bow out and keep their face.

Here are two links to articles in the local newspaper, for those of you who speak some German:
opinions after the UNESCO decision:
hope for those who are contra-bridge:


DAX Jul 17th, 2007 10:12 PM

Thanks for the articles Ingo:
Sounds like Dresden has a real dilemma since the October deadline is just around the corner. Hopefully the Fledermaus can eventually provide the solution. That would be just so typical, when all else fail use an endangered species to block any project. I would think that the world heritage status will be reinstated if/when the bats permanently kills the bridge plan (eventually?). I couldn't find a picture to see how ugly this Waldschloessen bridge is.

Ingo Jul 18th, 2007 12:39 PM

It's too bad. The 'Fledermaus' did not help. Today I heard that a court decided against the bat and for the construction of the bridge. Yikes!

Here is a link to a website with pictures. You can clearly see that the official pictures showed a much smaller bridge than it was planned in reality.

swandav2000 Jul 18th, 2007 12:49 PM


That's SO sad! I'm so sorry about this set-back. Thanks, though, for keeping us up to date. I will sure be sorry if I see that bridge going up on my next visit (whenever that is!).


Ingo Jul 18th, 2007 01:07 PM

S, you made me chuckle with your comment on 'how beautiful' the city is (FOR A CITY!). Yeah, no tranquil scenes anymore soon and only bridges, roads and buildings. :(

PalenQ Jul 18th, 2007 01:13 PM

Ingo - BTW thanks for the excellent suggestion on Austrian skiing for my kids.

Wow - i thought under such circumstances any bridge would be a wonder of the world asthetically but if these pictures of similar bridges i assume are any indication the bridge is simply a bridge and nothing special - i too hope things turn out like you wish

DAX Jul 18th, 2007 01:45 PM

Ingo: Can we assume that the green environmentalists can easily challenge one court decision. Perhaps it can be challenged all the way up to the federal court to remove it from the local politics. It's never too late till the bridge is built.

PalenQ Jul 19th, 2007 08:05 AM


Ingo Jul 19th, 2007 11:16 AM

Pal, you're welcome. Hope your kids have a great vacation in Austria. I prefer Switzerland over Austria in general, but this corner of Austria that I suggested has preserved some of the original Rhaetian culture, so it reminds me slightly of the Engadin.

Back to the bridge:
Mrs. Merkel just said that this needs to be decided on a local level. Obviously she doesn't want to get involved. What a coward!

Yes, it is possible to challenge this court's decision, but with very little probability of success I think. It is so sad. I have to report that an authority called 'Regierungspräsidium' (which surveys the cities and counties) today sealed the contracts for the construction of the roads that lead to the bridge. They did that in place of the city administration, which refused to do it. I guess that's it. <sob>

Ingo Jul 19th, 2007 11:18 AM

Here is the link to an article in a local newspaper:

PalenQ Jul 19th, 2007 11:54 AM

The immortal words of Yogi Berra: 'It ain't over til it's over' hopefully will apply here.

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