Elon Musk would approve: City politicians propose to bury traffic

In this month's city column, we take a look at plans to relieve the city of a dirty six-lane road, a proposal to end free parking in Copenhagen, and how new stone reefs are hoped to increase animal life in the harbour

Åboulevarden is one of Copenhagen’s busiest roads, funnelling traffic from the Hillerød motorway directly into the heart of the city. Beneath it runs a small river, Ladegårds å, which was incrementally buried in the first half of the 20th century.

Calls have been made to expose the river and bury the road for some years now, but have been repeatedly rejected by the city council due to the overwhelming cost.

What it might look like if the six-lane Åboulevarden were buried and the river Ladegårds Å was returned to the surface.

But the Social Liberal Party (Radikale) has now presented the most realistic proposal yet, which would not only return the river to its natural state, but also close one of the city’s most congested roads, H.C. Andersens Boulevard, in the process.

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For fifteen billion kroner, they propose building a five-kilometre City Tunnel, starting where Åboulevarden meets the Hillerød motorway in the north, and ending south of the city where it will connect with the Harbour Tunnel, a proposed eastern ring road carrying traffic from the north to the south of the city. A large underground car park beneath the city centre will mean drivers will still be able to access the city centre. The Radikale estimate that the two tunnels will carry around 85,000 cars a day by 2032.

A map showing the City Tunnel, running northwest to southeast, where it meets the proposed Harbour Tunnel.

“We have had reservations regarding a harbour tunnel, because it risks sending more traffic into the city,” Radikale leader Morten Østergaard told Politiken. “But now that the harbour tunnel seems to be on its way to becoming a reality, it is important to think constructively and use the opportunity to go even further to remedy traffic in Copenhagen. Otherwise we will lose an opportunity to solve several problems at once.”

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The City Tunnel will be financed both through a 20 kroner toll, as well as through the redevelopment of the land that will be freed up when the six lanes of Åboulevarden and H.C. Andersens Boulevard are cleared of traffic.

The Radikales’ proposal was received with scepticism by Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technical and Environmental affairs, Morten Kabell of the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten). He sees the City Tunnel as legitimising the Harbour Tunnel, which he opposes.

“The 40 billion kroner that the Harbour and City Tunnels will cost is such an insane amount of money that could have a much greater impact by investing in public traffic and other means of transport,” he told Politiken newspaper.

All cars must pay

Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, Morten Kabell, is not a big fan of cars, and has proposed ending free parking in the areas of the city where it still exists.

In March, the city extended paid parking zones further into Nørrebro, Østerbro and Valby, as local residents discovered that commuters were taking their parking spaces.

“There are many people who commute to the city every day and park their cars where Copenhageners would otherwise park their own car. It would make sense if it cost money to park across the whole city,” Kabell told Berlingske newspaper.

READ MORE: Putting a price on biodiversity

City residents who live in paid parking zones are still able to buy annual parking licenses for up to around 1,000 kroner a year, depending on the type of car.

The proposal was criticised by transport spokesperson for the Liberal Party (Venstre) Kristian Phil Lorentzen.

“It looks like an ideological crusade by Morten Kabell,” he told Berlingkse. “I am disappointed that he wants to stop non-residents from parking their cars in their own capital city, instead of focussing on creating even more parking spaces in Copenhagen, where people currently have to drive around in vain.”

Stone reefs in the harbour

Aquatic life in Copenhagen harbour was given a boost with the creation of six stone reefs placed around the Royal Theatre’s Skuespilshuset.

The 300 tons of natural stones were placed in water two to four meters deep, in areas that are otherwise too shallow for boats to use. It is hoped that the stones will create a safe habitat for fish and crustaceans, as well as attract plant life.

“If we are really lucky, we’ll get a visit from some of the seals that are out in the Øresund right now near Saltholm,” marine biologist Lars Anker Agantyr told TV2 Lorry. M

Click the picture to read the entire April issue online!

The May 2017 issue of The Murmur with historian Adam Holm on the cover.


By Johanna Sveinsdottir

Johanna Sveinsdottir Editorial intern. Originally from Iceland, Johanna has a masters in English with a focus on linguistics and language psychology.

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