Stockholm road gets green light

A major road project that will reduce traffic in central Stockholm has been given the final go-ahead by Sweden’s transport minister, Ulrica Messing.

Norra länken (the Northern Link), will be part of the E20 motorway, bypassing the northern part of central Stockholm, and will link with the Essingeleden bypass road and Södra Länken (the Southern Link). The combined roads will almost encircle Stockholm, although they will not connect on the eastern side of the city.

Sweden’s central government will foot 75 percent of the expected seven billion kronor cost. Stockholm council will provide the remaining 25 percent.

Much of the five-kilometre road will be put in tunnels, and is expected to halve traffic and pollution on Valhallavägen, in the north of the city centre.

The road project has long been a source of disagreement between politicians and environmentalists. The government’s green light on Thursday came as it dismissed ten objections from members of the public, and a number of complaints from environmental groups.

Messing said that the government’s evaluation of the project had been “thorough”.

The government argues that the road will not damage nearby parks including those of the royal palaces at Ulriksdal and Haga or those at Brunnsviken and Djurgården.

The government rejected a previous blueprint for the project, which had routed the road through the parks. The extended tunnels featured in the new plans are intended to overcome this problem.

“Major investments for the region are at hand,” wrote Messing in Svenska Dagbladet this morning, and highlighted a number of other road improvement plans announced by the government for Stockholm.

She said the new spending would “create possibilities for more homes and greater commuting capacity.”