On the project: “Transport evaluation of a bridge, tunnel, or ferry connection in the Rhine Gorge near St. Goar – expert assessment commissioned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate”
The two administrative districts (Landkreise) Rhine-Hunsrück and Rhine-Lahn are planning to construct a fixed crossing of the Rhine in the area of St. Goar/St. Goarshausen in addition to the two existing bridges in Koblenz and Wiesbaden/Mainz (Schierstein Bridge). The current situation means that over a stretch of about 90 km, there the Rhine cannot be crossed independently of the weather and the water level. The restricted accessibility between the two Rhine banks and the resulting low connection with the hinterland has in the past caused structural problems in the municipalities of St. Goar and Loreley, which in turn have led to declines in economic power and performance as well as in population. The planned new fixed crossing may improve the structural situation of the Rhine Gorge. This is necessary to provide an economic basis to ensure the World Heritage site by giving the local residents up-to-date, better, and more reliable access to the area on both sides of the Rhine.
The area in question is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Upper Middle Rhine Valley”. In addition to the general protection goals, the area’s “Outstanding Universal Value” must therefore also be acknowledged. The conditions for building a bridge or alternative options such as an improved ferry service or a tunnel must be examined as well as their negative effects.
The general feasibility and environmental consequences of a bridge or a tunnel are described in the expert report “Rheinquerung im Welterbe Mittelrheintal” by the GVS (Gesellschaft für Verkehrsberatung und Systemplanung mbH, Hanover) from February 2009 and in the environmental impact study by Cochet Consult (Planungsgesellschaft Umwelt, Stadt & Verkehr, Bonn) from May 2009, both commissioned by Landesbetrieb Mobilität, Diez. The environmental impact study particularly recommends an “outer deep level” scenario located outside of the particularly vulnerable core area around the Loreley. However, like the scenario “tunnel”, also examined in the study, this scenario affects several protection goals of the UVPG (Environmental Impact Assessment Act) as well as the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the World Heritage Site. In addition, this study drew on the economic study “Wirtschaftlichkeitsuntersuchung einer Querung des Mittelrheins bei St. Goar / St. Goarshausen” by BPV Consult Koblenz from Febuary 2005, commissioned by the Landesbetrieb Straßen und Verkehr Rhineland-Palatinate, and the feasibility study “Machbarkeitsstudie zur Tunnellösung - Rheinquerung im Mittelrhein im Bereich St. Goar / St. Goarshausen” by BUNG Beratende Ingenieure from November 2006.
In the course of the current debate, the UNESCO committee has furthermore proposed a significantly improved ferry service, the feasibility, efficiency, urban development and economic impact, accessibility improvement and acceptance of which need to be examined in comparison to the bridge and tunnel scenarios.
Aims of the project:
Against this background, the study sought to expand the evaluation foundation based on the aforementioned studies by describing and assessing in particular
- the efficiency of a ferry service and its consequences for onshore facilities, particularly spaces for waiting vehicles and their integration into urban structures,
- the economic implications of a ferry link compared to a bridge or tunnel scenario,
- and the operational restrictions and reliability of a ferry link.
In addition, the study aimed to summarize the following for assessment:
- the differing acceptance of fixed crossings (differentiating between bridge and tunnel) in comparison to a ferry
- the changes in accessibility
- aspects of urban development and transport regarding a tunnel scenario
The State of Rhineland-Palatinate
October 2009 – February 2010
The decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 29 July 2010