Dresden: Heritage in Danger!

Up-to-date (2009 / 06 / 16): Rectification of the assertion that a tunnel instead of a new bridge was "not approvable“

The Lady Mayoress of the City of Dresden, Mrs. Orosz, supports the construction of the Waldschlösschen Bridge. She claims that the World Heritage Committee should give up the tunnel alternative as demanded in its Quebec resolution because a tunnel was not approvable has no basis in fact. Hence, the assertion that a tunnel would not be approvable must be seen as a conscious deceit towards the World Heritage Committee.  

From the very beginning, those who are in favour of a bridge have proclaimed that a tunnel as alternative to the Waldschlösschen Bridge was not feasible. First they said “A tunnel is technically impossible”, later “The tunnel would be too costly”. All of these assertions have been invalidated to date.

Now, the Lady Mayoress of Dresden asserts that, according to the verdict of the Administrative Court of Dresden in the lawsuit filed by nature conservation organisations against the construction of the bridge, a tunnel was “legally not admissible”, “not approvable”, “not allowed”, etc.

In order to encounter these assertions we asked renowned administrative lawyers for their independent statement on the verdict of the Administrative Court. The experts we approached had not been involved in the lawsuits concerning the Waldschlösschen Bridge previously.

We are herewith publishing these statements

Prof. Bernhard Rauch, TU Dresden, states: “The verdict of the Administrative Court Dresden does not state in any way whether a tunnel is admissible or not. The conclusion that the court had decided that a tunnel was not admissible is therefore objectively incorrect.”

Prof. Martin Gellermann, University of Osnabrück, states that nature conservation law regulations are not an obstacle to realising the river crossing by means of a tunnel. Furthermore, the court had not at all decided on the approvability of a tunnel.

The statement by Prof. Alexander Schmidt reveals the contradictory approach of the Administrative Court Dresden and explains that the court’s assessment of the bridge as the preferable solution with regard to the FFH area is not sustainable. Schmidt: "After comparing the alternatives, the planning of a tunnel instead of a bridge would therefore be possible".


Implementation of the planned motorway-like traffic project would cross the Dresden Elbe Valley along its widest dimension and would block the view over the historic Dresden skyline.

Huge traffic facility is planned inside the World Heritage

The current plans for the traffic facilities, „Waldschloesschenbruecke“, indicate a four-lane fly-over, approximately 770 m long, spanning the Elbe Valley. In the immediate area of the river crossing, there is emphasis on two huge parallel steel arches. The 30 metre-wide road is supported by 2 inclining pylons and at the ascending Elbe hills in the north meets with a 1.2 kilometre-long tunnel system, which was planned to connect the bridge with the road network of the district „Neustadt“ and to enhance accessibility. The tunnels turn into open ramps in the streets of the bordering exclusive residential area, „Preussisches Viertel“ (the Prussian Quarter). Indeed, one of the ramps cuts directly into the meadows on the „Neustadt Elbe hills“. For the „Altstadt“ Elbe bank meadows, motorway-like roundabout entrances are planned.

Environmental Issues

The negative effects of the traffic project on the local ecology, environment and recreational land-use are significant. A study by the Dresden Office for the Environment proves that, compared with other possible bridge sites, the site, „Waldschloesschenbruecke“, has the most negative effects for both people and nature.

The Elbe meadow is a completely unspoiled natural landscape. As a landscape conservation area and as a part of a spacious flora-fauna-habitat (Natura 2000) with a biotope compound, the area would be considerably disturbed by a crossing traffic facility. Despite all concerns brought forward by Dresden inhabitants and citizens‘ initiatives, the bridge project was approved by the authority in February, 2004.

Financial Issues

At 157 million Euros, the construction costs are the highest charges ever estimated for construction of an urban bridge in Germany. The construction costs would significantly eat into the budgets of the Free State of Saxony as well as the City of Dresden. The costs will affect other areas of public services and will endanger cultural and social projects. Moreover, if subsidised by the state, the costs will also negatively affect the public transport system of Dresden. Additionally, the maintenance of the bridge and its facilities will cost 1 million Euro per year and it is still not clear whether this money will be available, since the traffic system of Dresden is currently suffering from poor maintenance.

The traffic plans clash with the values and aims of urban architecture, landscape, environment and nature conservation as well as the preservation of ancient buildings, the cityscape and cost-efficiency. Even the main argument for the construction of the connection, a reduction of traffic in the inner-city, has been negated by a general recession.

The project contradicts the requirements of a sustainable development of the cultural landscape of Dresden Elbe valley. The necessity of the project is questionable; as there is no doubt that the bridge would damage the cultural image that is Dresden‘s heritage.