Major Bridge Upgrade Germany – Balkans Floods

NEWS: Germany announces a major push to tackle the parlous state of its bridges. Flooding devastates parts of Bosnia, Serbia and now Croatia. Paris plans a massive new Low Emission Zone. Finland thinks driving fines and bans are against Human Rights law. Bulgaria unveils an ambitious new border crossing strategy, and wheel clamps made their debut in Flanders.

GIBRALTAR QUEUE WATCH: after a quiet day, and weekend, delays reached two hours this evening.

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MAJOR BRIDGE UPGRADE GERMANY

New money from foreigner vignette and new truck tolls?

germany bridges

The majority of Germany’s bridges are more than 40 years old. Fifteen percent are in an ‘insufficient state’. Photo: A3 at Passau, towards the Austria border.

Figures published last year said half of Germany’s bridges were in need of renovation plus twenty percent of autobahns and forty percent of federal roads.

The situation was brought into sharper focus last Thursday when the transport ministry admitted that, of the 39,000 bridges across the main road and motorway network, 15% are in an ‘insufficient state’ and the majority were more than 40 years old.

Truckers are already well used to long diversions due traffic restrictions on Germany’s bridges, particularly in the Ruhr. Increasingly these restrictions apply to car drivers too.

Now the government has announced an extra €400m – on top of its existing €600m budget – to tackle the problem, to be spent 2015-17.

Reading between the lines it appears the new money is revenue anticipated from next year’s foreigner vignette and extension of the truck toll system to all vehicles over 7.5t. The extra €200m per year is exactly the amount they expect to raise from the foreigner vignette alone.

In practice, drivers should expect many more overnight and weekend road closures. Already, according to the @ADAC, a quarter of all motorway construction sites are bridge refurbishments, around 90 in total.

The work will be concentrated in the following states: North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony.

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BOSNIA: More than 3,000 landslides across the northern part of the country - and neighbouring Serbia - yesterday closed roads and displaced mine fields left over from the conflict in the 1990s. The rain has now stopped but the rivers are expected to peak in the next couple of days. Miraculously the YoGypsy tour around the western Balkans last week escaped unharmed. More later.

BOSNIA: More than 3,000 landslides across the northern part of the country yesterday. In the words of Mia Farrow, ‘Nearly a third of the country.. is now a huge muddy lake.’ It has been just as bad in neighbouring Serbia with floods reaching Croatia now too. The rain has stopped but the rivers are not expected to peak for a couple of days. Miraculously the YoGypsy tour around the western Balkans last week escaped unscathed. For the latest on the situation – which also now includes displaced mine fields from the Yugoslav War – see the links at the top of the page.

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roundup: PARIS. Stricter measures in the event of another ‘pollution crisis’ were presented at a meeting at a meeting of the City Council today, as reported last week: diesel buses will be eradicated, drivers switching to petrol cars will get a year’s free public transport and the fine particulates level that triggers remedial actions has been reduced, among other things. One new detail is that the Low Emission Zone will extend out to the A86 ‘Super-peripherique’ ring road. FINLAND. Legal bods say fining and banning errant drivers violates EU Human Rights rules as it goes against the principle of not being punished twice for the same offence. The Finnish Supreme Court ruled in 2012 however that such penalties were acceptable. BULGARIA plans to open eight new border crossing points by 2017 – one more with Greece, two with Serbia, three with FYRO Macedonia and two with Romania. No locations given as yet. The Makaza border point in far north west Greece reopened last September after 68 years. BELGIUM. Wheel clamps make their debut in Flanders this month to tackle persistent parking offenders. Menen has been blighted by serial dodgers particularly from across the nearby French border. Five offences in six months will see the clamp deployed – the penalty will be removal costs plus outstanding tickets. Two other towns in the vicinity are considering using clamps too. Other regions in Belgium have agreements with inter-EU agencies to collect parking fines.

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