Danger Lurking 20cm Beneath the Autobahn – Saxony’s Silberstrasse

TODAY: the incredible story of the WW2 bomb found just underneath the surface of the A3 at Frankfurt. Also, the Sachsen Classic kicks off today, through a mountainous part of eastern Germany.

Also, Finland’s fancy new road toll system might not happen (and neither might Russia’s electronic truck tolls). Moscow police investigate a motorway serial killer. New acoustic sensors could save lives in Austria’s road tunnels. Continuing truck queue misery at the Serbia-Croatia border. A short documentary on the floods in Bosnia.

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EXPLOSIVE DANGER LURKS 20CM BENEATH THE AUTOBAHN

Luck and judgement averts Frankfurt autobahn disaster.

Many drivers will be familiar with this exact stretch of road, just a few miles east of Frankfurt’s futuristic airport on the A3 autobahn just south of the city.

This is one of the Germany’s busiest stretches of motorway. On average it sees more than 150,000 vehicles each day, a mix of local and transit traffic, on southern Germany’s major east-west link.

Built in the late 1950s, A3 runs nearly 500 miles from the Dutch border near Arnhem to the Austrian border near Linz via Cologne, Frankfurt and Nuremberg.

So it wasn’t just dangerous when workman uncovered a 250kg WW2 bomb on Tuesday night but massively inconvenient too. Eastbound drivers faced delays of up to two hours yesterday, picking their way across local roads on diversion, with the prospect of the same continuing indefinitely.

After initial attempts to dissolve the 70 year old fuse failed, the bomb was covered with a ‘flexi-pack’ containing 30,000 gallons of water to muffle the controlled explosion – but it still left a 65ft wide hole in the road.

Impressively, the damage was repaired in less than two days and the eastbound A3 returned to service at 05:00 this morning.

It could have been much worse. According to the head of the state bomb disposal service, interviewed by Frankfurter Rundschau, the bomb lay just 20-30cm below the carriageway.

Luckily it was under the fast lane, else – as he admits – it could have been set off, at any time, by a heavy truck.

Thanks to an archive of 55,000 wartime aerial photos made available by the Allies, road builders are aware of the high risk areas. Accidents can still happen however. In October 2006 a workman on the A3 further east at Aschaffenburg died after uncovering a WW2 bomb.

Chillingly, up to 30% of WW2 explosives failed to detonate. Considering the US Eighth Air Force dropped 12,197 tons of bombs on Frankfurt it means a considerable amount still lies in wait. Twenty have been found in the area so far this year but it’s not just Allied ordnance causing problems. Last summer several tons of German WW2 arms were found buried during the construction of the Carl-Ulrich Bridge over the Rhine, less than 5km away.

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The Sachsen Classic kicks off today in a little known part of east Germany, in the south, around the border and Erzgebirge Mountains it shares with the Czech Republic. Classics of all kinds are welcome but the three day event specialises in vehicles from former Eastern Bloc countries – so Ladas, Trabants and Wartburgs, but also Horch, Wanderer, EMWs and, interestingly, Rootes Group Hillman Minx and Singer Gazelles. The British manufacturer sold cars in the former GDR from 1960. The oldest car is a 1925 Skoda Laurent and Klement 110. VW is the main sponsor and Porsche has a presence too. The Erzgebirge top out at the 1244m Keilberg, so not so high, but the route includes the 12% Steile Wand through the centre of Meerane. Since 2012 the local attractions have been strung together in the 140km Silberstrasse – Silver Street – highlighting the region’s silver mining and jewellery making history. See en.silberstrasse.de or #SachsenClassic.

The Sachsen Classic kicks off today in the little known southern part of eastern Germany, around the border and Erzgebirge Mountains it shares with the Czech Republic. Classics of all kinds are welcome but the three day event specialises in vehicles from former Eastern Bloc countries – Ladas, Trabants and Wartburgs, but also Horch, Wanderer, EMWs and, interestingly, Rootes Group Hillman Minx and Singer Gazelles. The British manufacturer sold cars in the former GDR from 1960. The oldest car is a 1925 Skoda Laurent and Klement 110. VW is the main sponsor and Porsche has a presence too. The Erzgebirge top out at the 1244m Keilberg, not so high, but the route includes the 12% Steile Wand through the centre of Meerane. Since 2012 the local attractions have been strung together in the 140km Silberstrasse – Silver Street – highlighting the region’s silver mining and jewellery making history. See en.silberstrasse.de or #SachsenClassic.

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roundup: FINLAND. Plans for the world’s first GPS pay-as-you-go all-roads toll system are under threat after the incoming transport minister said she was not keen. The idea emerged after a high-profile independent report last year as was intended to replace all other motoring taxes. A large scale trial was being worked up to leverage the country’s experience in IT and mobile phone technology. RUSSIA. Moscow police are currently investigating a series of motiveless highway murders. The number of victims varies depending on the news outlet but varies from four to fourteen, since May. Most of the apparent attacks have taken place on or around the M-4 highway south east of the city though the latest, on Tuesday night, was on the A-108 road near Forminskoy in the south west. Spikes are thrown in the road forcing cars to stop whereupon the driver is shot. No valuables have been stolen. Meanwhile, according to Austrian road toll operator Kapsch, the tender for a 12t+ truck tolls system has been postponed again, until at least 22 September. ‘The realization of the project currently appears uncertain,’ it said in a statement. AUSTRIA. Following a successful trial in the Kirchdorf tunnel on the S35 at Frohleiten near Graz, acoustic sensors will be installed in 32 of the country’s 150 road tunnels over the next five years, starting in autumn 2015. Having built up a database of typical sounds the sensors can alert operators to abnormal events much faster than video surveillance, and locate people in dense smoke. SERBIA. Trucks queues at the Banovci border crossing with Croatia reached seventeen hours today. Delays have steadily built up since the weekend. Queues at the nearby Sid crossing are at two hours. Cars are waiting one hour at Batrovci. Max 30mins at other border points.

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BOSNIA. A video showing the impact and aftermath of the devastating floods which hit in May:

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GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: 60mins midnight, 4h40 at 12:15, max 30mins this afternoon.

CALAIS MIGRANT CRISIS PETITION: 3,229 signatures since 15.7. See @Justice4Trucker.

CONDOR FERRIES rescheduled services, Commodore Clipper on course to return 22 August.

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