Grand Duchy files: The last stretch of the A7 motorway opened on 23 September, 26 years after the first section went into service.
Anyone who has lived in Luxembourg for more than 20 years will remember the advertising campaign promoting the Nordstrooss, the northern highway that has now finally linked Luxembourg City with the city of Ettelbruck and access to the north of the country.
Lobbying against the highway was rife in the early 1990s as environmentalists and countryside interest groups feared the road would destroy the natural habitat for local wildlife.
The government of the time launched a campaign featuring a young boy upset that he wouldn’t see his father before bedtime, because it was taking dad so long to get home in the evening rush hour along the heavily congested road that wound its way from the capital through Walferdange, Heisdorf, the Tolkeinesque sounding Helmdange, Lorentzweiler, Lintgen, Mersch and Colmar-Berg before reaching the metropolis of Ettelbruck.
Well, traumatised as he was, that kid is now probably a father himself. But at least his own children will get to see him before they hit the sack on a school evening.
Work on the highway had begun back in 1979, but completion was delayed several times as planners had to rethink the route because of objections and geological conditions that would have made construction along the original route nigh-on impossible. The plans for the final section of the highway, linking Kirchberg with Mersch, were only finalised in 1995. Now the 31.5km stretch of road is finally open to traffic.
But that doesn’t mean that the objectors have been silenced. Biologist and campaigner Roger Schauls says the Grëngewald has been parcelled off unnaturally by the construction of the road. Schauls also claims the road will hardly reduce travel time between the north and the capital city. “People from the Ösling will just reach the traffic jams at Kirchberg more quickly,” he says.
As for the Alzette valley, which was meant to have been relieved of traffic by the new road, it too has seen some of its roads extended rather than closed, claims the forest expert.