Prague Ring Road seeing progress

A new section may be built, but discussions will be in November

Prague management has approved the completion the Prague Ring Road (Městský okruh). The city will start preparing a tender for the completion of a part of the inner ring between Pelc-Tyrolka and Štěrboholy. Design work should cost Kč 350 million and construction should start in 2024. The order was supported by the Three-party Coalition (Greens, KDU-ČSL, STAN), even though they originally had reservations. The plan is also supported by the Social Democrats (ČSSD) and ANO.

The full City Council will discuss the proposal in November after the parliamentary elections.

“I am glad we found the consensus and the votes of the whole ruling coalition to pass the proposal for the continuation of the Prague Ring Road in the originally planned variant,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said, according to press reports.

Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) unsuccessfully tried to get the contract approved at last week's extraordinary board meeting. The Three-party Coalition, which favors a cheaper alternative route, blocked the move. A study about the cheaper route will be completed in the middle of next year.

After the study, the city should decide whether to select the existing project that already has a valid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or the option proposed by the Three-party Coalition.

“If another transport solution has been made, the city can withdraw from the contract,” Dolínek said

If the city chooses the current proposal it could obtain a zoning decision in 2021 and a building permit in 2023.

The current plan has three sections with several expensive tunnels. The first is a 3.2 kilometer long stretch of Pelc-Tyrolka at Balabenka, where there are two tunnels. The second section is between Balabenka and Štěrboholská and has one tunnel. The third part is a 1.35 km section in Libeň with an 865 meter tunnel.

The Three-party Coalition says the existing option is too costly. Their alternative route is based on an older design by the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR). It would be mainly above ground and have just one new tunnel under Malešice. A new stretch of 3.5 kilometers would be needed, including the tunnel.

“I agree with architects and the Prague Institute of Planning and Development that the Prague Ring Road should be a cheaper and faster version of the original plan. That is, not a motorway with tunnels under the city, but a high-street boulevard,” Matěj Stropnický (Green), chairman of the transport committee, said, according to Pražský deník.

Among the opponents of the cheaper plan are Prague 3 leaders, who say it would bring more noise and emissions to the city district.

Opposition party TOP 09 also is against the way the plan is being handled. “It is a totally inconvenient manipulation of the topic. Everyone wants examine the Ring Road plan, but they postpone the time to after the elections,” said Václav Novotný, head of the TOP 09 club. He said his party would advocate an immediate negotiation of the contract on Thursday, and if it fails, his party would consider convening an extraordinary assembly before the election.

Work on the Prague Ring Road began in the 1980s. The most recently completed part was the Blanka tunnel, which opened in September 2015. The Prague Ring Road is sometimes called the inner ring road.

There is also an outer ring road under construction, which goes through the city's outer and suburban areas and is now called the D0 motorway. The first section opened in the 1980s, but only 40 of its 80 kilometers have been completed.

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