Stockholm traffic bypass gets green light

The government has approved the controversial Bypass Stockholm (Förbifart Stockholm) traffic link that will cost the state around 27 billion kronor ($3.75 billion). The project has been strongly criticised on environmental grounds.

The decision has been criticised by the Green Party (Miljöpartiet), the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) and the environmental movement, which say that the plan will cause a large increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

The construction project is planned to commence in 2010, and is expected to take approximately eight years to complete. The traffic link will span 20 kilometres of roadway, 17 kilometres of which will be by tunnel. The motorway will connect the Stockholm region’s southern and northern areas – from Skärholmen, south of Stockholm, to Häggvik in the north – and will pass to the west of the city, relieving the heavy traffic around Essingeleden.

Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren describes Bypass Stockholm as an environmentally friendly motorway, which is needed to solve Stockholm’s traffic problem, including along the E4 motorway heading out of the city.

“This is the climate and environment alternative for Stockholm, and it is linked to our strong commitment to trams and buses,” Carlgren said.

The planned traffic bypass project has been heavily criticised over the years. For one, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) has been critical due to its assessment that the bypass will lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions in the Stockholm region by 80 percent by 2030.

The Green Party agrees and adds that Bypass Stockholm will not provide a lasting solution.

“The government’s decision is very unfortunate. Bypass Stockholm will increase Stockholm’s effect on the climate and increase vehicle numbers. At the same time, it will take resources from important commitments to communal traffic,” said the Green Party’s spokesperson, Maria Wetterstrand.

The government has indicated that certain environmental hurdles were satisfied before giving the final go-ahead for the motorway project: the Lambarfjärden is to be saved from exploitation, the Grimsta forest is to be preserved, the exploitation of Lov island is to be minimal, and the world heritage Drottningholm and the Natura 2000 area Edeby ekhage are to be preserved.

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