In view of numerous overloaded bridges, the CDU is warning of widespread traffic disruptions in Lower Saxony. The CDU member of the state parliament Marcel Scharrelmann accused Transport Minister Olaf Lies of a “policy of sitting things out and hesitating”. In doing so, the SPD politician risks a “traffic collapse,” Scharrelmann told the German Press Agency. He called for an immediate program to renovate bridges in order to prevent important traffic axes from being blocked.

According to the state government, there are currently around 150 bridges that are in a critical condition and need to be replaced with new ones. Construction work on around 70 of them, almost half, is scheduled to begin in the next five years. This year, the B3 on the Südschnellweg in Hanover and the B70 near Leer are among those affected.

Overall, however, the work will take years. “With the current staff, replacing the 150 critical bridges will take more than ten years,” predicted the Ministry of Transport in response to a request from the CDU parliamentary group. “In addition, more bridges will be added in the next few years that reach the critical area due to their age and condition.”

Transport Minister Lies told the dpa that the plan is that money will immediately be available for every bridge whose renovation has been fully planned and approved. “We were able to increase funding for our state roads this year. The federal government has made the same commitment for federal roads,” said Lies.

Specifically, around 110 million euros are earmarked this year for the maintenance of state roads and the construction of cycle paths. In addition, there will be 240 million euros for the federal infrastructure.

However, Lies admitted that the infrastructure was far from ideal after decades in which investments had been repeatedly postponed. “It simply leaves its mark when roads are used by more and more and heavier traffic over the years. Therefore, our goal must be to maintain this investment in our roads at a high level,” said the SPD politician.

Traffic restrictions and bridge closures already exist today – and they are possible “on all critical bridges,” as the ministry explained. In the future, load restrictions and closures could be avoided – provided there are enough staff.

This isn’t happening fast enough for CDU MP Scharrelmann. “The fact that there is currently not even a plan for half of the bridges is an alarm signal, the possible consequences of which Lower Saxony simply cannot afford and would significantly affect the local economy,” said Scharrelmann, recalling that Lies will already have one in September 2023 The master plan for the bridge had been promised. But nothing has happened so far, criticized the CDU politician.

The minister said at the time that renovation work should not begin until the bridges were already dilapidated. “So we need a bridge master plan or a bridge task force,” said Lies at the road construction day.

In Lower Saxony, there are around 2,700 bridges in the federal road network and around 2,100 bridges in the state road network. According to the state government, two thirds of the bridges are designed for loads from the 1950s, with a truck weighing a maximum of 24 tonnes in 1954 – compared to 40 tonnes today. In addition, heavy goods traffic has increased more than tenfold. “This means that these bridges are systematically overloaded,” it was said.

Response from the state government (pdf)