Tunnel instead of crossing

Underpass on Ollenhauerstraße to be built by 2029

An diesem Bahnübergang ist eine Unterführung geplant. Im Foto ist unten die Ollenhauerstraße, oben die Dottendorfer Straße zu sehen.

A tunnel is planned at this railway crossing. In the photo Ollenhauerstraße is at the bottom and Dottendorfer Straße at the top.

Bonn. Deutsche Bahn has announced the construction period for the Ollenhauerstraße. The local traffic lobby criticises the route for cars, while the chamber of commerce is demanding an extension for lorries.

The construction of a railway underpass on Ollenhauerstraße has been reviewed, discussed and even planned for many years. In response to our enquiry, Deutsche Bahn informed General Anzeiger that from current assumptions, the detailed planning involving residents and implementation of the major project will be completed in 2029. A railway spokesman from Düsseldorf explained that variant 3B would be the basis for the construction. Neither he nor the city were prepared to comment on the calculated costs. The most recent estimate was around eight million euros but this amount is likely to increase significantly in view of the long planning period.

The railway barriers often lead to long waiting times and queues of traffic on Ollenhauerstraße. "You spend a lot of time waiting," explained Christian Schmidt from Kessenich, who regularly drives over the railway crossing on his way to and from work. At the same time, however, he, like Anneliese Stuck from Friesdorf, fears that an underpass could intensify the traffic flow in the direction of the districts facing away from the Rhine.

As things stand so far, a roundabout on the side of the former government area is to improve the flow of vehicle traffic between Ollenhauer Strasse, Dottendorfer Strasse, Oscar-Romero-Allee and Nahum-Goldmann-Allee, and a cycle path is to run continuously and a pedestrian walkway partly on one side of the road each as bidirectional traffic. The local bicycle club (ADFC) and the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg/Ahr motor club (VCD) are critical of this part of the plans.

"This is not a favourable option for cyclists," said Werner Böttcher of the ADFC. A cycle path on both sides of the road would be a minimum goal. He also takes offence at the narrow bends, which would practically go around a corner. For example, someone coming from Dottendorfer Straße and wanting to head south to Bad Godesberg would have to turn at an almost 90-degree angle whilst at the same time fight against a gradient. "Much longer ramps would be needed to improve these points for cyclists."

"Good and desirable underpass"

Böttcher welcomes the idea of a cycle path as a bridge over the road, as this would allow for smaller differences in height to be overcome. But such a bridge would also have to be built north of the roundabout. For Böttcher and Karl-Heinz Rochlitz of the VCD, car traffic is once again at the forefront of the planning. Both fear that the number of cars would increase considerably in the districts of Kessenich, Dottendorf and Friesdorf. Their demand: the underpass should remain free of cars.

Connecting commuter traffic on both sides of the railway tracks could provide a quick and handicapped accessible way of changing to buses. "I think it would be a good idea to consider stopping tram lines 61 and 62 from ending at Quirinusplatz, and instead take them through the underpass to the B9," said Rochlitz. Then it would be possible to change on to tram lines 66, 16 and 63. However, the construction of a railway underpass is always linked to the closure of nearby barrier crossings. There is also the question of what effect it would have on traffic if there was an underpass that motorists could not use.

The Bonn/Rhine-Sieg Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) evaluates the "good and desirable underpass" quite differently. Till Bornstedt, IHK Transport Officer, is of the opinion that Deutsche Bahn must take into account in its planning "that commercial traffic can also be handled well in the future". For him, this means that the roundabout must be fully asphalted to enable big lorries and special-purpose vehicles to reach businesses and haulage companies. The clearance height of the underpass must be at least 4.70 metres.

As previously reported, Helmut Wiesner, head of the planning department in Bonn, signed a planning agreement with Deutsche Bahn in 2018 to the effect that the railways would plan the entire project from start to finish. The costs will be borne by DB, the federal government and the city. "The part to be borne by the city in accordance with the current regulations of the Railway Crossing Act would currently be subsidised by 70 percent", explained Marc Hoffmann, the deputy spokesman for the city.

(Original text: Phillip Königs, Translation: Caroline Kusch)