From original published in Norwegian in Bergens Tidende
by Ruben Oddekalv, Leader of Green Warriors of Norway –
The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association
Much has been said, written, and meant about the urban railway route through Sandviken, the extension of the Fløyfjell tunnel, and good route choices from and through Bergen.
But while the debate around this has been both long and thorough, the process around the further route selection has been correspondingly short and in truth brutal. Here, both shortcuts and risks are taken on behalf of the population.
If there is a drinking water resource by a highway, you should either refrain from drinking the water or remove the highway.
When analyzing airborne dust on motorways, nanoparticles of petrochemicals are found to be worn up by the road surface. You will find remnants of, among other things, asphalt, car tires, oil, paint, and road salt – all of which are substances you absolutely do not want to have in your drinking water. And you certainly do not want to give it to your children.
The highway through Eidsvåg is already today too close to Jordalsvannet, which is drinking water for 45.000 people throughout Åsane and parts of Sandviken.
The road goes over what is called the immersion area to the drinking water, where for most people it is forbidden to build anything. In connection with the design of the light rail to Åsane, there is now a historic opportunity to remedy the mistake that was made over 30 years ago, when the motorway was built. You can now put the motorway under a “traffic lid” – as they have just made at Skjoldnes (in Fana on the southern highway out of Bergen). This will prevent pollution of the drinking water – and lead Eidsvåg back to the peaceful and idyllic district it once was. Without noise and dust and pollution from a motorway, you can also open up for new housing construction.
But then the unthinkable happens: The municipality will not use this historic opportunity to improve the environment! The municipality chooses the exact opposite – the municipality wants to move the highway even closer to the drinking water! The municipality will also lift the road up on a bridge so that the drinking water will get maximum exposure to airborne dust from the highway!
As this has been explained to me, it is about money – and the Bybane. Some have calculated that it will be best and cheapest to let the light rail take over the existing motorway route through Eidsvåg, while car traffic will go in an extended Fløyfjellstunnel that comes out a little further east in Eidsvåg and subdues even more nature, residential areas and not least: that is, even closer to the drinking water.
That there should be an economic gain from this solution, I see as doubtful.
In addition, the existing highway through Eidsvåg – purely in terms of construction – is one of the best stretches of road we have in Western Norway. No one in their full five will probably decide to lay down a highway route that is one of the better ones, and then build a completely new route some distance away!
I have therefore taken it for granted that the Bybanen will be laid next to the existing motorway. Possibly on top of the highway if it gets a lid. You can not build homes on top of a lid, due to vibrations in the construction, but has it been considered train rails on top of the lid? Possibly grounded in the ground in the middle lane in the middle between the two driving directions on the highway?
It has been argued that the extended Fløyfjellstunnel must take a turn if it does not come out where the municipality wants.
It won’t be the first tunnel with a turn inside them – look at the highway system underneath Oslo by the Opera house!
Through the recent decision in the city council, the municipality has said no to studying alternatives to its own plan. According to the city council, it is now only the municipality’s own route that is to be worked on further – with a view to a final plan.
Here, the municipality is literally lost. The least that must be required is that the city council now takes action and demands that the completely obvious alternatives must be studied at the same time. Only then can one get a real basis for decision-making. For my part, the answer is obvious: Keep the highway where it is, put a lid on it and let Bybanen go next to it or on top of it.
This is how I see the solution – if the environment matters!