Yellow warning lights flashing. Bumper to bumper cars push their way across the A7 in front of the schraudenbach bridge (lkr. Schweinfurt). The sun reflects on the avalanche of cars. Signs at the edge limit the speed in the construction site to 80, then 60 km/h. They seem almost mocking, more than walking speed is hardly possible in the evening rush hour traffic. At vacation time, motor homes and fully packed station wagons still mingle with commuters. Stop-and-go is the result, every day. "I would never go through between four and six", says a 53-year-old man from schweinfurt, who travels to wurzburg every day for his job. Four construction sites lie in its path, four traffic jam hotspots. They are by no means the only ones in the region.
The autobahndirektion nordbayern is currently overseeing a total of 15 major construction projects in lower franconia. Smaller daily jobs such as asphalt renewal are also being carried out, says alexander leis, head of the wurzburg office. "We have a 450-kilometer-long road network with 540 bridges that we have to keep safe for traffic." there is work to be done, especially on the A 7 and the A 3, which are the most congested in northern bavaria and even in germany. According to the ADAC, more than 28,000 traffic jams were recorded on the A3 last year, 20 percent more than in the previous year. And this is likely to remain the case due to the massive construction work around wurzburg," said leis.
There, around the cathedral city, the A 3 is marked deep red on the ADAC’s congestion forecast map. The six-lane expansion began at the turn of the millennium, and the section between aschaffenburg and wurzburg is currently under construction. The construction volume for the wurzburg area alone, with the lowering of the roadway, the heidingsfeld viaduct and the katzenberg tunnel, amounts to 220 million euros, says alexander leis. All current projects in lower franconia (see graphic) together would amount to 700 million euros. "The federal budget financing has improved noticeably in recent years, so that we can now implement many projects that bavaria had prepared on drawer in the medium term", says leis.
18 kilometers to be opened this year
leis is aware that the current brisk construction activity is a burden on commuters and vacationers alike. "We may have to narrow the lanes at construction sites, but the number of lanes will not be reduced during major projects such as on the A3. Otherwise the traffic would collapse." the expert hopes that the section between aschaffenburg and wurzburg will be completed by 2019. And: "in the wertheim/marktheidenfeld area, we want to open up 18 kilometers this year." but it still doesn’t mean a free ride on the A3. The expansion is to continue beyond wurzburg in the direction of erlangen, and the contract award procedure is currently underway.
The ADAC also sees no reason to "sound the all-clear" on germany’s second longest highway: the A3 will probably remain the traffic jam leader in the coming years due to the further expansion to nuremberg. In comparison, the A7 appears to be running smoothly at first glance, with around 8,000 reports of congestion in 2016 – although this is an increase of a good 40 percent compared to 2015. The main culprits here are dilapidated bridges that can no longer withstand the heavy traffic.
By 2030, more than 20 bridges along the entire A7 will have to be renewed, says alexander leis. Five construction sites are currently in his area: the rothof, kurnach, pleichach, schraudenbach and kloffelsberg viaducts. This means that we are already putting road users through quite a lot, says leis. In two years, the werntal bridge is to be added to the congestion. "At some point in 2020, marktbreit will also be added," says a 53-year-old man from schweinfurt. "But after that, we will first have to work through the existing construction sites."
30 kilometers from the biebelried interchange to schweinfurt/werneck. Actually not a long way. Six kilometers of it, however, commuters are currently driving through construction sites – and mostly in traffic jams. That stresses and costs nerves. "I live with the traffic radio to avoid traffic jams", says, for example, the 53-year-old schweinfurt resident. When the A 7 is closed, he uses the B 19 as a detour. That doesn’t always work out: "all the alternative traffic is then on the road and it can happen that you’re driving bumper to bumper again.
The ADAC also warns against this. "If there is a traffic jam due to congestion, it is better to stay on the autobahn because the alternative routes are also overloaded", says markus bachleitner, head of traffic information. In addition, at least vacationers should avoid construction sites and traffic jams and not be on the road between friday and sunday. According to ADAC statistics, those who do drive on country roads have to reckon with a higher risk of accidents.
And with it to stand at the end also on the federal highway at a road works sign. A good 25 construction projects are underway or starting this year in the area of responsibility of the state construction offices in wurzburg and schweinfurt. For example, the road surfaces on the B 19 (heidingsfeld to the A 3 junction) and on the B 27 (veitshochheimer strasse) are being renewed, as are the st 2271 in marktbreit and the st 2435 (wiesenfeld through-road).
In the fall, the B 19 from the county border (giebelstadt) to wurzburg, among others, is to be renewed in sections in the wurzburg district. At nine kilometers, this is one of the longest planned construction sites. "In addition, of course, our major measures, the mainbrucke ochsenfurt and the rudenhausen and rieneck bypasses, as well as the expansion of the through road in kurnach, are underway, according to the wurzburg construction office.
In the north of the region, the area of the schweinfurt construction office, construction is currently underway on the B 279 (wegfurt bypass), the B 285 (expansion of the section between nordheim and ostheim) and twice on the B 286 (renewal of kissinger strabe in bad bruckenau and renewal east of oerlenbach). The renewal of the road between oberebfeld and sulzdorf on the B 279 is scheduled to begin in august.
Why actually in summer?
Warning beacons, barriers and traffic cones adorn both country roads and highways in lower franconia. Only: why does it always have to be in the summer??
"Of our 15 measures, eleven will take several years anyway", says alexander leis from the highway department. "We can’t help it." such construction sites would have to continue in principle also in the summer, so that the time is minimized.
In other cases, such as when concrete is renewed on the A7 near feuchtwangen, "we tear out a lane and cannot interrupt this during the summer phase". For all construction projects, he said, the mild weather from march/april to november/december is actually necessary throughout the year. But: "if we can control it, we will certainly take measures in times with less traffic, not in the middle of summer." where this is not possible, commuters and vacationers will continue to drive through trellises of red and white beacons. To be on the safe side "always plan half an hour more for appointments", as the 53-year-old schweinfurt resident. And swearing in after-work and vacation traffic. Susanne popp