Construction on the controversial Mosel bridge has been stopped due to missing or faulty documentation or calculations, according to reports.
Computer-generated image of the bridge
Witnesses say equipment has been dismantled, and workers sent away until further notice.
The reasons for halt in construction are not clear at the time of writing. According to German press reports, building came to a standstill because accurate calculations had been carried out only as far as the bridge’s first pier.
At the same time local newspaper Trierischer Volksfreund quoted the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Infrastructure stating that the delay is due to missing documents relating to structural analysis.
Calls to the Ministry of Infrastructure, as well as contractor Porr and steelmaker Eiffel, have gone unanswered.
The bridge, which is meant to run from Ürzig to Rachtig, above the vineyards of Zeltingten to Bernkastel, has been a source of bitter controversy since it was proposed 30 years ago. Construction started about a year and a half ago, despite strong protest.
‘We are happy building has stopped but it is too early to tell what this means for the future of the bridge,’ said Sarah Washington, spokesperson for Pro-Mosel, a citizens’ group which along with BUND (Friends of the Earth Rhineland-Palatinate chapter) and the German Green Party, has been fighting the bridge.
These opposition groups are concerned about the impact on the region’s vineyards and surrounding countryside of pollution, traffic and other factors. They also point out that the three-decades-old plan has become a costly, obsolete mistake.
Supporters counter that among other things, the project creates jobs.
‘This is obviously highly embarrassing,’ Washington told Decanter.com. ‘At the moment everyone who supports the project is trying to play it down. From what we hear privately, everyone involved is blaming each other for this huge mistake.’
Washington said critics have posed questions about structural issues before, most recently in an August 2011 commissioned report that noted inadequate exploration of the implications a tall, heavy load-bearing bridge would have on a region prone to landslides.
‘Now the federal government has the task of deciding whether it wants to finance this reckless adventure further,’ said Georg Laksa, also of Pro-Mosel. ‘Is it justifiable to once again empty many hundreds of millions of euros from the pockets of German taxpayers to fulfil the insane fantasy of some local politicians?’
See all our coverage of the Mosel bridge
Written by Maggie Rosen