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Opposition calls for Stockholm bypass vote

TT/The Local · 20 Apr 2010, 16:28

Published: 20 Apr 2010 16:28 GMT+02:00

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The three opposition parties want to push through a law change requiring a referendum even if the centre-right majority wins the upcoming election.

"I am presuming that the centre-right politicians will respect what Stockholm residents think in a referendum," Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin said.

Left Party leader Lars Ohly went as far as to threaten to freeze state funds to the project, reported to be earmarked at around 5 billion kronor, if a centre-right controlled Stockholm did not follow a referendum decision to spend the money on public transport instead.

The proposal is part of a broader package of compromises announced by the parties covering infrastructure investments in the Stockholm region.

According to their agreement, a referendum would be held on September 23rd 2012.

The proposal intends to give Stockholm residents two alternatives - to expand public transport with new rail tracks, metro lines and stations, or to build a north-south motorway route around Stockholm, the so-called Bypass Stockholm.

The compromise signals a new retreat by the Social Democrats in Stockholm who have previously stated their intention to push through the bypass in defiance of opposition from the Green and Left parties.

"The slapdash construction continues," Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in response to the opposition agreement.

"They put inability to work together properly and reach compromises ahead of the Stockholm region's and Sweden's important investments in the future," he said.

Story continues below…

The project was given the green light by the centre-right government last September after the completion of an environmental review. Construction of the road is scheduled to commence in 2010 and be completed in approximately eight years.

The road link will span 20 kilometres of roadway, 17 kilometres of which will be by tunnel, and will connect the Stockholm region’s southern and northern areas – from Skärholmen, south of Stockholm, to Häggvik in the north – passing to the west of the city and designed to relieve the heavy traffic around Essingeleden.

The bypass project has been heavily criticised on environmental grounds over the years of its planning. Aside from the Green and Left parties, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) is among those critical of the plan, arguing that it would lead to an 80 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the Stockholm region by 2030.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:09 April 20, 2010 by asquil
I support the Bypass Stockholm project. The current motorway that runs through Stockholm city is an eye sore and an environmental bungle.

A sensible City planner would turn the entire Stockholm motorway into a walkway with green grass/trees and bypass/encircle the city with a motorway, like the M25 motorway in London.
08:29 April 21, 2010 by Luckystrike
The "bypass Stockholm" is really seriously needed and im positive the 10 of thousands if not 100's of thousands of driver that get jammed everyday will agree.

Public transport is perfect, it honestly does not need any expansion.
09:35 April 21, 2010 by engagebrain
3 billion dollars to bypass Stockholm and speed up rush hour traffic is an insane sum of money to spend to save 15 minutes for road vehicles during the rush hour.

Outside the rush hour Stockholm has more than enough roads.

Use the money to put freight onto rail and commuters into trains to meet the time when peak oil undermines the petrol economy.
13:20 April 21, 2010 by aaww
according to those guys, building anything new in sweden will have a environmental impact, so you really should not build anything new.

that's why infrastructure in sweden far lacking behind most of the other EU countries, not to mention US or China.
14:17 April 21, 2010 by Audrian
I am surprised why cost benefit analysis of the options is not done to help the public make rational decision. Transport economists can make this study in not more than three months.

The advantage of a referendum would be lost if the public does not have access to cost-benefit analysis study of different alternative mode of transport. In the US, the car lobby distorted the transport system so that it would sell cars. In San Francisco, for example, the Ford Company bought the well developed cable car network of that city several decades ago and dismantled it so that people without bus-alternative would buy cars.

The car industry in the US had been influencing city planning such that public transport system is difficult to organize. The consequence of this is that each family is forced to buy two or three cars. The US has more cars per head than any country in the world. Through years of propaganda people associate car ownership with personal freedom!

Which way Sweden should "go" is an important decision that should not be left to politicians!
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