Setback for bridge builders in Mauthausen: “Start of construction still a long way off!”

Setback for bridge builders in Mauthausen: “Start of construction still a long way off!”
Setback for bridge builders in Mauthausen: “Start of construction still a long way off!”

Preparations for the start of construction are on hold until the objections have been resolved.

The fact that the construction of the new Danube bridge near Mauthausen, which had been communicated until recently, could begin this year had become increasingly unlikely in recent months. Now this goal has actually been dropped. As the state governors Thomas Stelzer and Johanna Mikl-Leitner (both ÖVP) and the state transport ministers Günther Steinkellner (Upper Austria) and Udo Landbauer (Lower Austria) – both FPÖ – announced in a press release on Wednesday evening, the start of construction has been significantly delayed. It has even become “a long way off”.

  • also read: Green light from St. Pölten for Mauthausen Danube Bridge

The reason is a decision by the Federal Administrative Court (BVwG). The court examined several complaints from landowners and citizens’ initiatives from both federal states. In doing so, it overturned a section of the EIA decision, which was completed in February this year, that was crucial for the further timetable: This decision stipulated that judicial treatment of the objections should not have a suspensive effect on the further preparations for the start of construction, which is still planned for this year.

60 year old existing bridge

Due to the poor condition of the existing bridge – it was built in the 1960s – it would have been extremely important, according to the bridge planners, to push ahead with the construction preparations in parallel with the proceedings. With the decision of the BVwG, these preparatory works are now on hold, regretted Governor Thomas Stelzer: “Today’s news is bad for the business location and ultimately comes at the expense of the population.”

All necessary renovation and safety measures are currently being continued on the existing bridge in order to avoid a long-term total closure of the aging bridge. For example, a speed limit of 30 km/h has been in effect since March 2023 to protect the supporting structure. The inspection interval has also been significantly shortened in order to be able to monitor the condition of the bridge regularly and comprehensively.

All these efforts are looming over the sword of Damocles, the expiration of the permit for using the old bridge. This expires at the end of 2026. A total closure from 2027 without the new bridge being opened to traffic is therefore becoming more likely with the current BVwG ruling. “The realization that the daily additional burden of 350,000 to 400,000 kilometers of diversion in the region during the closure was not classified as serious by the Federal Administrative Court weighs heavily today,” said Günther Steinkellner, State Councilor for Infrastructure.

In fact, a total closure lasting several months or even permanently without a replacement would be the greatest possible embarrassment for the state governments in St. Pölten and Linz, which have failed over the past 20 years to work out a bridge solution that would be accepted by everyone in the region.

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