Germany’s highways are becoming a political battle zone

Dhe Autobahn, it was once a symbol of freedom and mobility. That was long ago. Today it has become a contested area. It is enough to mention the keyword “speed limit” to let the emotions boil: “speeders” who simply don’t want to take off the accelerator are irreconcilable against “climate ideologues” who want to spoil the last fun.

The latest scene in the battle for the motorway is the Dannenröder forest. Environmentalists have been occupying the forest for about a year to prevent clearing for the further construction of the A 49 in Central Hesse. In the forest they built barricades from logs and tree houses. With the start of construction work, the protests intensified. On Tuesday, two activists abseiled off a bridge, the A3 motorway was closed and there was a traffic jam. At the end of the traffic jam, a driver crashed into a truck; he was badly injured. Regardless of the exact circumstances, the accident intensified the discussion about the blockade action – and about the fundamental necessity of road construction.


Economy Minister Tarek Al-Wazir: Not a crisis manager

Dhe Hessian Minister of Economics Tarek Al-Wazir (The Greens) takes the top priority when he describes a collection of support programs for the economy of the state as the “New Hessen Plan”. The support programs just presented for crisis-ridden companies are far removed from the policy of the legendary Prime Minister Georg August Zinn (SPD), who gave shape and direction to the reconstruction with his “Hessenplan” launched in 1951, however useful they may be in individual cases. The “New Hessen Plan” is ongoing administrative business, not a project of the century.

However, it is no coincidence that Al-Wazir got it wrong when it came to finding a name. The minister has had a hard time with the crisis that appeared out of nowhere. In the seemingly endless years of the upswing, it was not noticed that the Green politician was still alienating the established economy, that hardly anything fundamental about the future of the Hessian economy was ever heard from him, that he did not visit as many medium-sized companies as it would have been expected.

Help out of the crisis with a hodgepodge

But now one is amazed that Al-Wazir is making a government statement on the corona crisis without going into the specific consequences at Frankfurt Airport or the situation of the financial center, that he only mentions Opel and Continental as briefly as possible. Can the otherwise highly praised Green politician encourage Hessian entrepreneurs? Does he have an idea of ​​how Hessen can work its way up out of the crisis that goes beyond the constantly tried phrases of “sustainability” and “digitization”? So far, these questions cannot be answered in the affirmative with a clear conscience.

Al-Wazir’s uncertainty is also reflected in the funding programs presented on Tuesday, some of which are convincing as an emergency fund for companies that have not received anything for bureaucratic reasons, but others seem like a hodgepodge; How the economy is to get back on its feet with the modernization of bus stops will remain the Ministry’s secret. Al-Wazir did well in the upswing years. He has not yet become a crisis manager.


Planned clearing of the Dannenröder forest: green ordeal

DA hammer penetrates the trees, and two people fasten corrugated iron to the roof of a tree house. Around 200 people now live in the Dannenröder Forest. Some of them have built huge tree houses and piled tree trunks on the forest paths. Wire ropes are repeatedly stretched across the paths that lead far into the forest and high into the treetops, where a platform then hangs. Below is a sign: “If you cut this, a person will fall down.”

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, based in Wiesbaden.

With such radical measures, forest occupiers want to prevent the clearing for the expansion of Autobahn 49 in Hesse. The project has been planned for more than forty years. Construction is now to begin. The expansion extends the already existing part of the A49 from Kassel towards Gießen. So far, the motorway ends in between – and the traffic continues to torment itself on federal highways. In 2016 the Bundestag decided to build it. The state government is carrying out the project, the district parliaments are in favor, and the courts have dismissed all claims, most recently the Federal Administrative Court in July. Nevertheless, the resistance on site is immense. The project is an acid test for the Hessian Greens.


Additional corona test center planned at Frankfurt Airport

Travelers are waiting at the test center at Frankfurt Airport – soon there will be another facility.
Image: Helmut Fricke

Preparations are underway for a wider range of corona tests at Frankfurt Airport. In another facility of the Red Cross, tests for travelers from high-risk areas are to be offered free of charge.

AAnother corona test center for travelers is to be built in Frankfurt Airport shortly. In contrast to the existing facility, the tests are to be offered there free of charge for travelers from high-risk areas. A corresponding order is being prepared by the Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU). This Wednesday the state ministers Tarek Al-Wazir (business and transport) and Kai Klose (social affairs and integration) want to find out about the state of planning, as their ministries announced.

According to dpa information, the new center will be operated by the German Red Cross. A publicly accessible area in the transition structure between the ICE train station and Terminal 1 is planned as the location. When the bus is in full operation, Lufthansa usually has its Express Rail counters for those changing trains.

Diagonally opposite, the company Centogene has been operating a commercial test center in cooperation with Lufthansa and the airport operator Fraport. Tests there cost between 59 and 139 euros. Around 38,000 people have been examined so far.