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German-Danish bridge

June 19, 2009

The passage of a bill for an ambitious construction project means that drivers might soon be able to hop in a car and drive straight from Copenhagen to Hamburg.

A computer graphic image of the Fehmarn Belt bridge
The massive bridge will cross the Fehmarn Belt between Denmark and GermanyImage: AP

By 2018, drivers may be able to take a road trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg in just three and a half hours. The German parliament has now voted in support of a bridge connecting Denmark and Germany, three months after the Danish government approved the same plan.

The bridge, which will be almost 20km (12 miles) long, will stretch across the Fehmarn Belt, a strait in the Baltic Sea between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland.

While the project is expected to cost an estimated 5.6 billion euros ($7.8 billion), Denmark will shoulder the lion’s share of 4.8 billion euros. Germany will pay 800 million euros for the twin rail tracks and four lane highway connections through Fehmarn, whose inhabitants are unhappy about the level of upheaval that the construction is expected to bring.

The Fehmarn Belt bridge is also a point of contention for environmentalists. They maintain that the massive bridge would be located in the middle of the main flight path of migratory birds from Africa to Northern Europe. Activists plan to contest the bridge project in the courts.

"We need this infrastructure," German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said. The new roads and railways are expected to reduce the heavy congestion which is common in the region during the summer.

If the project is approved by the German upper house, the Bundesrat, construction is planned to begin in 2012.

Editor: Susan Houlton