Plans for a river crossing at the widest and most sensitive part of the River Elbe Valley have been frequently abandoned in the past and cannot even today be reconciled with adequate urban development and ecological quality.
Although Dresden had a well constructed, well-connected and comprehensive tramway system, after the second world war the concept of an „automobile-compatible“ city was adopted without criticism. Following this, the crossing at the „Waldschloesschen“ was developed in several stages (1967, 1977 und 1988) as a part of a four-lane outer ring road. It had been planned to cross the Elbe meadows with a huge inclined suspension bridge. The new motorway was supposed to be integrated with the existing road network by means of crossings on several levels. To accommodate the wide cuts of the streets it was even intended to demolish urban areas which until then had been spared war devastation and industrial reconstruction.
The political turn of events in 1989 brought to a halt the implementation of this part of the economic plan. In 1994, the new requirements of the city came together in a traffic concept. At this time, only those plans which met the requirements of an urban and ecological mobility with a focus on the avoidance of traffic and the fortification of public transport were favoured.
Traffic decline and shifts to other areas, even today, have been outweighing the potential benefit erroneously expected from the bridge project. Hence, renunciation altogether of the „Waldschloesschen“ project would by no means result in sizeable disadvantages to traffic or economy.
In several parts of Germany today a significant decline of population is expected. This trend will only intensify, and Dresden, currently with steady population, will not be spared this effect.
With 500,000 inhabitants, Dresden is half as large as Cologne on the Rhine. Although Dresden already has 8 bridges crossing the river, Cologne has only 5 bridges. At the moment Dresden enjoys an excellent traffic flow. Compared with other cities, Dresden‘s generous traffic facilities – catering for fewer and older citizens than anywhere else – have always guaranteed free traffic flow. Since 1995 the cruising speed has doubled to 24 kph. Dresden is thus ahead of Munich and Brussels and at the top of the list of European cities.
Various traffic experts point to the fact that the traffic volume forecasted for the „Waldschloesschenbruecke“ will not hold. A 2003 study by Technische Universität Dresden states: „If one compares the bridge-frequenting traffic of 2015 with the current traffic there is a rise of 34% without the bridge and respectively 42% with the bridge. Since the vehicle traffic volume is currently static, this increase in frequency is hard to explain.“ The experts were right. Only two years later, in 2005, the traffic volume had declined so much that the effects of relief expected by use of the „Waldschloesschenbruecke“ arrived without the bridge.
Traffic density in Dresden has been continuously declining for years. Its lower impact on the existing River Elbe bridges already now outweighs the benefit expected from the planned bridge project.