08 November 2012

Outrageous Harbour Tunnel for Copenhagen

Car Crash
The old-fashioned road interests are at it again and the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen, among others, are pandering to them. The insanity continues in The New Copenhagen.

Now they want to build a tunnel for cars and trucks to connect the motorways that come from the north of Copenhagen and end in an area called Ryparken/Hans Knuds Square, to the motorway that connects the West of Zealand (the island on which Copenhagen is located) and the bridge to Sweden.  This motorway also accesses the Copenhagen airport. What is interesting is the development that this will no longer be called the "harbour tunnel", but will instead be called the "Eastern Bypass" - but that's just so that it can recieve funding from the national government. This will, however, mean that the tunnel may have to have more interchanges on its route than a pure bypass road would have, especially as it is being proposed as a "Public-Private Partnership", the investors in which will be wanting as much return on their money.
This idea goes contrary to decades of Copenhagen City Planning as well as the City's declared goal of reducing car traffic in the city.

On that note, we publish a rational and intelligent contrary opinion. From the good people at the Rådet for Bæredygtig Trafik.

Press Release from the Danish Council for Sustainable Traffic

An open letter to the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Ministry of Transport on the occasion of press reports evaluating a harbour tunnel.

We say "No" to a harbour tunnel / "Eastern bypass" in Copenhagen.

This will be a road connection costing at least 27 Billion Danish Kroner (US$4.6 Billion/ €3.6 billion), which can justifiably be called a "Whiskey-belt" (Copenhagen slang for the wealthy coastal suburbs to the north of the city center-Ed.) Tunnel because it primarily will only make it easier to drive to Copenhagen from the northern suburbs. 

Copenhagen has a relative good environmental situation due to the fact that there has never been such an additional access road or motorway. 

This would be for the benefit of all citizens and the environment; not just motorists from the well-to-do suburbs.

For decades, various road-lobby interests have fought for a harbour tunnel.

Where might the cars which would use a harbor tunnel come from?

A report entitled "Eastern harbour tunnel in Copenhagen" issued by the Ministry of Transport in 1995, concluded that 40% of traffic in a harbour tunnel would come from  the municipalities of Gentofte, Lyngby Taarbaek and Søllerød, (of which Gentofte's share was predicted to be 25%). 

There can be little doubt that any motivation to leave the car at home in these wealthy municipalities might vanish if you build a harbour tunnel. 

Such a tunnel would undermine all good intentions of a better environment because it would itself become a traffic generator that will make it extremely attractive to use private cars over other modes of transport.

In 2000, the Copenhagen City Council concluded that a harbour tunnel will create more problems than it would solve. 

And, since then, no other information has arisen that would alter this conclusion.

According to an article written by Transportation Planner Øystein Leonardsen in the journal "Miljøsk" ("Environmental"), all proposals will increase traffic, emissions and energy consumption. http://www.trafikbogen.dk/HavnetunnelM45.pdf

In an article that appeared in the Danish Engineering trade-publication Ingeniøren ("The Engineer") in September of 1996, one of Denmark's leading urban planners, Peter Hartoft-Neilsen points out that it has been to Copenhagen's advantage that there is no eastern bypass.  (http://ing.dk/artikel/15411)

Other cities envy Copenhagen for this.

Hartoft-Nielsen wrote:

"The very fact that we do not have the roads clogged with motorized traffic and an eastern bypass around Copenhagen, has been crucial to the over all, relatively favorable traffic situation that characterizes Copenhagen and the center of the city,; which manyany other European cities envy today. The city has been made to evolve in a 150 degree semi-circle, and this has been the basis for a sensible settlement of the city."

Peter Hartoft-Nielsen also points out that policy-makers must choose between car traffic and public transport.  

As the former European Commissioner for the Environment and former Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Ritt Bjerregaard said:  "It is not possible to simultaneously go in for private cars and public transport in urban areas, if society is also to meet the need for mobility and improve quality of life. We need to make some clear choices about what we want when it
comes to mobility in cities. You can't have your cake and eat it too.''

If one wants environmentally friendly development, one should not simultaneously undermine such an environment with destructive actions such as a harbour tunnel and eastern bypass. Instead rely on vehicles that are not abusing space in cities. As shown in this chart of Capacity per Traffic Lane, private cars are the least capable means of transport when one looks at environmentally friendly use of city land.

Havnetunnel i København ?

We at Copenhagenize encourage Copenhagen municipality to maintain the position that a harbour tunnel creates more problems than it solves. It is an obscene, disgusting amount of money to spend on something that has been proven to be useless and that will create more traffic in Copenhagen.

Rationality is the new black. Catering to automobile culture is last century.


Miles Bader said...

You've made a lot of posts describing the insanity and influence of the pro-car interests in Copenhagen (of all places)...

I'm wondering if you could give some indication the state of the political opposition to this stuff. Is it weak? Strong? Popular? Marginal? Gaining ground? Fading?


Erik Griswold said...

That's the Bizarre thing, Miles: It is literally everyone to the right of the Social Democrats, the party of the current Prime Minister. The only two parties that have come out against this, so far, are the Socialist People's Party (strong base in the city, Euro-sceptic) and the Red/Green Alliance "Unity List"(owing to their green routes, and perhaps also due to the Privatized nature of this infrastructure.). I can find you political campaigns by Social Democrats wishing to represent the city at the National Parliament advocating this tunnel. A classic case of "Limousine Liberals"? We'll see. In the meantime, it looks like someone has been wined and dined. But we've got some inconvenient facts to present.

William said...

As a Copenhagener, who first heard details about it here, I can say that I supported a tunnel from the Airport/Swedish Bridge to the Helsingør highway - that could lead a lot of traffic around the city, and seemed a good thing.

Now, as I read more details, I see that the plan includes NINE exits from the freeway straight into the heart of the city, like stabwounds from a poisoned dagger (if you'll excuse the melodrama), and I am very set against it.

Anyone who knew as little as I did, would most likely support the plan, given that it's presented as a way to route traffic around the town, rather than into the town.

Erik Griswold said...

William, that's the thing about "by-passes". They never are; always have interchanges enroute. And this one won't be a sealed bypass, it can't be with so much private money invested. Exits will have to be built and this then gives those from the car-infused villa quarters the ability to do an "end around run" into not only Nordhavn, but also Christiania, Amager Standvej and the north end of Ørestad, which has been specifically designed to not encourage auto use; that was to be for the southern end where Ørestaden interacts with the "Lufthavnsmotorvejen".