Citizens' jury on Westschnellweg

29. May 2024
NLStBV / Franz Bischof

In the German city of Hanover, a citizens' jury is to advise on the modernisation of the Westschnellweg (Western Expressway). A dialogue forum with representatives from clubs and associations as well as district councillors and administrative staff will also meet in parallel. The Lower Saxony State Authority for Road Construction and Transport presented a corresponding dialogue concept to the public on 27 May 2024.

The Westschnellweg, which was built beginning in 1950, is a four-lane motorway in Hanover and part of the B6 federal highway. Together with the Südschnellweg (Southern Expressway), the Messeschnellweg (Trade Fair Expressway) and other motorways, it is part of the concept developed by the city planner at the time, Rudolf Hillebrecht, to route long-distance traffic around the city centre.

Bridges in need of renovation

Planning for the B6 motorway from the Hanover districts of Stöcken, Herrenhausen, Linden and Limmer to the Landwehr roundabout is still in its infancy. However, according to the state's Ministry of Transport, 14 bridges in serious need of renovation will require construction work in seven to eight years. The Westschnellweg is to be modernised as part of this process.

Planners have to reconcile climate protection, transport transformation and safety during the modernisation. It is not yet clear, for example, how the slip roads will be remodelled and whether a tunnel could replace bridges and a section of the road. Widening the road and creating an additional hard shoulder are also being considered to improve safety.

Informing and involving citizens

There were fierce protests against the expansion of the Südschnellweg, although there was a public dialogue at the time. According to Christian Budde, spokesman for the state Ministry of Transport, lessons were learnt from this. This time, the ministry wants to organise the process even more openly, inform citizens and involve them.

The "WESTprotest" alliance is calling for more transparency and the inclusion of climate targets in motorway planning. Independent experts should ensure this. The Greens also criticise the project: Involving citizens' juries only makes sense if the planning is also open. However, the foundations for the expansion have already been laid. They are calling for the motorway to be renovated and not extended.

Overall society issues in the citizens' jury

The citizens' jury on the modernisation of the Westschnellweg is to consist of 35 randomly selected residents of the city of Hanover. These are to be predominantly residents of the neighbourhoods affected by the expansion of the Westschnellweg.

The agenda of the jury will include "issues affecting society as a whole". One question could be whether a wide motorway is still needed at all in view of the climate crisis. At the end, the mini-public will make recommendations to which the state road construction authority, as the body responsible for the entire construction project, will have to respond.

Dialogue forum to provide pointers

The dialogue forum is intended to provide the authorities with "pointers" for further planning. Ultimately, however, the elected representatives will decide on the plans for the Westschnellweg motorway.

Learn more: Result of dialogue concept for B 6 | Westschnellweg presented