Prague Ring Road hits more disagreement

Two plans for the northeast section have people in City Hall at odds

City leaders disagree over how to complete the northeastern section of the Prague Ring Road. There are two options. One calls for extensive use of tunnels and has been referred to as “Blanka II.” The other is called “duál” and relies on adjacent sets of existing roadways. The section in question runs from Troja to Štěrboholy.

The Three-party Coalition is against the tunnel concept, while Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD), who is responsible for transportation issues, is in favor. He called the tunnel plan functional for traffic and sensitive to the urban environment. The Blanka II plan would span 10 kilometers using three tunnels and costing some Kč 40 billion. Work could start in 2023.

About half of the 10 kilometers of the Blanka II plan would be made of tunnels. Dolínek says this variant has three parts, two of which are part of the Ring Road. One part is Balabenka to Štěrboholy and the other is Pelc-Tyrolka to Balabenka.

The third part is the Libeň Junction (Libeňská spojka). The city last week started a competition among four project designers who will be preparing project documentation for that part, according to Dolínek.

City Councilor Matěj Stropnický (Greens, Three-party Coalition) says the Blanka II plan is poorly conceived, overpriced, impracticable and unnecessary. He favors a plan that will spread traffic out over two routes that run side-by-side and require much less construction, and also cost the city less. This variant has only one tunnel, under Malešice. The plan originated at the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR).

Both sides claim the dispute is causing senseless delays in the Ring Road project, which was started in the 1980s under communism but still has not been completed. In addition, parts of the original communist era plan are still being considered as an alternative by some people since there in no agreement on the new plans.

The first Blanka tunnel complex is the longest road tunnel in the Czech Republic and the longest city tunnel in Europe. Construction was launched in 2006 although it had been planned in 1993. The tunnel cost tax payers some Kč 43 billion, though the original budget was Kč 21.2 billion. It was due to open in 2011 but didn't open until September 2015.

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