The building of a new Gothenburg bridge is not problematic

By: Thomas Ström 2/9/15

When it comes to investing in infrastructure, Sweden is not up to par. It is, therefore, most welcome when it finally is decided that major investments will be made on a national as well as a regional level. With that in mind, I have a hard time understanding the criticism of Gothenburg City’s decision to build a new bridge over the river Göta Älv connecting the city.

According to the plan, the bridge is to be 12 metres high, in comparison to its very timeworn brother Göta älvbron, which is 19 metres high.  And it is the height that attracts criticism. The port of Gothenburg is situated on both sides of the outlet of Göta Älv and this results in more bridge openings for larger freight ships.

The critics claim that a lower bridge will put a greater toll on both the environment and the economic life than the current bridge. I do not agree at all. Ship-owners and municipalities both believe that this will lead to more bridge openings and halted traffic, which would have a bigger impact on the environment.  In addition, they also argue that freight transported by sea will be delayed since the ships have to wait for the bridge to open.

But since there already is an even lower bridge, only 6 metres high, which is used for trains and that bridge will soon be joined by another one just as low, there is really no reason to argue over this new city bridge. The Swedish transport administration has also stated that trains will cross over these two train bridges every eight minutes. 

In addition, the local transport administration office in Gothenburg has promised that the bridge will be opened at least once an hour, except during rush hour 7.00-9.00 and 15.00-18.00, which further helps ship-owners and municipalities. Furthermore, the bridge is already opened 1.7 times every day and during the bridge opening ceremony it is estimated that 2-3 ships will arrive each day.

I also want to point out that from an environmental point of view, it is not certain that it is better with freight by sea than by road. Ships’ emission cause greater pollution than that of trucks.