Hamburg Is Getting Rid Of The Autobahn, And Putting Parks On Top
The Autobahn 7, Germany’s longest highway, runs straight through Hamburg. Over the years, it’s grown more and more congested, now carrying about 152,000 cars and trucks per day.
To deal with the increasing traffic, the city is turning to a pretty conventional solution: widening virtually the entire stretch of the highway that runs through the city.
But to deal with the noise — and the way that the highway has severed neighborhoods that were connected before it was built in the 1980s — Fast Company reports that the city has come to a pretty interesting solution: they’re burying a few miles of the highway and covering it with parks, community gardens, and housing development.
The project, which is called the Hamburger Deckel and is projected to cost $800 million, comes after 20 years of lobbying from a local residents’ initiative called “Ohne Dach ist Krach” (German for “No Roof, Too Much Racket”). Burying the highway is a practical way to meet a city noise abatement ordinance passed in 2005, as the sound barriers built in most places (including virtually everywhere in the US) can only cut down on noise by a factor of about half.
The tunnel project also has some other benefits: in covering what will be an eight-lane freeway, it’ll provide a substantial amount of new parkland, along with space to build a neighborhood of 1700 homes. At its northern end, the new park will also link existing parkland, establishing a new greenbelt. Work is starting this year, and it’s projected to be finished in 2022.
The project will also mean that the city has room for a quickly growing population, since people will suddenly be willing to live next to the highway, according to Schier. “We can build more than 2000 new homes,” he says.
As the government builds the covers, it will also widen the highway to try to ease traffic. Some of the new parks will stretch over eight lanes, making the tunnels the largest of their kind in Europe.
Of course, the project raises another question: Is it better to turn a highway into a tunnel or get rid of it completely? As other cities start to repair neighborhoods torn apart by urban highways, some are taking those highways out and building better public transportation.