Local opposition to bridge could derail train plan

Mayors in southern Jutland prefer a new bridge over the Lillebælt strait even though it would cost more than four times the government’s preferred option

A new train bridge over Vejle Fjord, which will help the government accomplish its 28.5 billion kroner plan for faster rail transport, is facing political opposition.

The bridge is a key element of a government plan to reduce railway travel time between Odense and Aarhus to one hour, but several Jutland mayors prefer a new bridge over the Lillebælt strait between Funen and Jutland.

“The bridge is a bad solution,” Middlefart mayor Steen Dahlstrøm (Socialdemokraterne) told Politiken newspaper. “I think we should drop it and instead build another Lillebælt Bridge. That would be a far more sustainable and visionary solution.”

Congested Lillebælt
Dahlstrøm joined the mayors of Kolding, Fredericia, Vejle, Vejen and Billund in calling for an additional bridge over the Lillebælt, which they say is too congested.

Kolding mayor Jørn Pedersen (Venstre) told Politiken newspaper that building a new bridge over Vejle Fjord would be “catastrophic”.

But the Transport Ministry estimates that a new Lillebælt bridge would cost as much as 13 billion kroner, more than four times the cost of a new Vejle Fjord bridge.

READ MORE: Government presents new rail strategy

The transport minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr (Socialistisk Folkeparti), argued that the Vejle Fjord bridge is a better value for money and the only way to cut the journey time between Odense and Aarhus by almost 10 minutes.

“We won’t get the most for our money with a new Lillebælt bridge, but we will with a Vejle Fjord bridge,” Dyhr told Politien. “And that is essential. If we remove one piece the whole puzzle will fall apart.”

The new rail infrastructure is being paid for by increasing the taxation on some North Sea oil companies which has lead to at least one operator threatening to withdraw their planned investment.