Prague: Europe’s Longest City Tunnel – Autostrada del Sole at 50

Trojsky Most opens to the public, a milestone in the torturous construction of Prague’s record-breaking Blanka Tunnel Complex.

Also, new clean-ferry fuel rules next year raise the spectre of fare surcharges. Belgium’s marathon ‘speed blitz’ is in doubt. Italy’s A1 Autostrada del Sole celebrates its fiftieth birthday. Rally spectators in Italy have a super-close shave.

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‘TROJSKY MOST’ PREVIEWS EUROPE’S LONGEST CITY TUNNEL

Prague’s Blanka Tunnel Complex: difficult construction starting to bear fruit.

Prague: after a long and difficult gestation, the Blanka Tunnel Complex took a significant step forward yesterday when the Trojsky Most (Trojan Bridge) opened to the public. More later.

Trojsky Most, Trojan Bridge, Prague. Photo via Metrostav.cz

After a long and difficult gestation, the Blanka Tunnel Complex took a significant step forward today when the Trojsky Most (Trojan Bridge) opened to the public.

The 250m bridge crosses the Vltava in the north west of Prague, at the eastern portal of the three consecutive Blanka tunnels. Trams run through the middle with two lanes for cars each side.

The 6.4km series of tunnels will vie with Madrid’s M30 ring for the title of Europe’s longest city tunnel and certainly surpasses the next longest, the 4.7km Sodra Lanken in Stockholm, 4.5km Dublin Port Tunnel and 3.2km Lefortovo Tunnel in Moscow.

Blanka completes the lion’s share of the Prague inner city ring road, designed to bypass the historic city centre, which should be finished in its entirety by 2020.

A pet project of Mount Everest-climbing, controversial former mayor Pavel Bem, the Blanka Tunnel project started in 2007 and has been beset with every problem since including three major leaks, massive time and cost overruns – especially of Trojan Bridge – unauthorised construction, uncovered archaeology, undermined buildings, invalid contracts, and a police investigation into the finances.

Last week the final dispute between the city council and construction company Metrostav was settled in arbitration.

Building is reportedly now finished with just final safety checks remaining. Trials should start 2 December ahead of a full public opening in April 2015.

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ITALY. Saturday was the fiftieth anniversary of the A1 ‘Autostrada del Sole’, the road that, as of 4 August 1964 cut the travelling time from Milan to Naples from two days to eight hours. Built to mark the A1’s opening (on the Feast of St Francis, patron saint of Italy) was the Chiesa dell’Autostrada – Church of the Motorway – at the Firenze-Nord junction of the A1 and A11 north of Florence, halfway between Milan and Naples. It was designed by Giovanni Michelucci who was also responsible for Florence’s rigorously modernist main SMN railway station, 1934, fashioned from above in the shape of the fascio littorio, (bundle of bound twigs) the Facist symbol. The difference between the two buildings is vast save for their façades of rough-hewn blocks. The Church was considered revolutionary at the time, an ‘organic’ form twisted into various spaces in which different-sized groups of people could meet and is cited - recognisably so – as a major influence for modern starchitect Frank Gehry.

ITALY. Saturday was the fiftieth anniversary of the A1 ‘Autostrada del Sole’, the road that, as of 4 August 1964 cut the travelling time from Milan to Naples from two days to eight hours. Built to mark the A1’s opening (on the Feast of St Francis, patron saint of Italy) was the Chiesa dell’Autostrada – Church of the Motorway – at the Firenze-Nord junction of the A1 and A11 north of Florence, halfway between Milan and Naples. It was designed by Giovanni Michelucci who was also responsible for Florence’s rigorously modernist main SMN railway station, 1934, fashioned from above in the shape of the fascio littorio, (bundle of bound twigs) the Facist symbol. The difference between the two buildings is vast save for their façades of rough-hewn blocks. The Church was considered revolutionary at the time, an ‘organic’ form twisted into various spaces in which different-sized groups of people could meet. It is cited – recognisably so – as a major influence on modern starchitect Frank Gehry.

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CROSSING THE CHANNEL. Freight customers face fare hikes when new low-sulphur fuel regulations come in on 1 January – by 15% Stena has said – but it hasn’t been clear what will happen to regular passenger tickets. Now Lloyd’s Loading List says operators will levy fuel surcharges as, for example, the more expensive clean fuel increases P&O’s costs by £30m each year. How much fares will rise by is still not clear however. More announcements are expected as the deadline looms says LLL. Meanwhile, Denmark says it will take a zero-tolerance approach to the new rules. BELGIUM’s ‘speed blitz’ on Friday 10 October is in doubt. Like in neighbouring Germany last month, the plan had been to put all hands on deck for 24 hours in a crackdown on speeding drivers but the on-going dispute about police pensions and retirement age means many officers will boycott the event says FlandersNews.be. This week is already a ‘fine-free week’ with police reportedly issuing just warnings for low-level traffic offences.

 

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An unbelievably lucky escape for spectators at this weekend’s Jolly Rally Valle d’Aosta, nw Italy:

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