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Mosel Bridge Construction Halted as Green Party, SPD Hold Talks

The Mosel Valley at Uerzig, Germany. The valley is the planned site for a road bridge that has drawn protests from conservationists and winegrowers. The area produces some of the finest Riesling wines in the world. Photographer: Georg Laska/Stop-the-Bridge-Campaign via Bloomberg
The Mosel Valley at Uerzig, Germany. The valley is the planned site for a road bridge that has drawn protests from conservationists and winegrowers. The area produces some of the finest Riesling wines in the world. Photographer: Georg Laska/Stop-the-Bridge-Campaign via Bloomberg

April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Construction on a bridge over the Mosel Valley will be put on hold after the Green Party made gains in a regional vote, raising hopes among winemakers and campaigners that the project will be scrapped completely.

The 1.7-kilometer-long, 160-meter-high road bridge is part of a 330 million euros ($469 million) project. It was planned to straddle the unspoiled middle Mosel, halfway between the villages of Uerzig and Rachtig, by 2016. The area has the highest concentration of prime “erste Lage” vineyards, the German equivalent of the French “grand cru.” Riesling grapes have grown there for 2,000 years.

After trebling its share of the vote in the March 27 regional election in Rhineland-Palatinate, the Green Party is holding talks on forming a government with the Social Democrats, who previously ruled alone. The Greens won 15.4 percent, while the Social Democrats won 35.7 percent of the vote.

“Both parties agreed at this meeting that no more contracts on the Mosel Bridge should be awarded during the coalition talks,” the regional Green Party said in a statement on its website. They also agreed that construction on the feeder roads along the Mosel should cease for that period, it said.

The Green candidate in the constituency where the bridge is planned, Jutta Blatzheim-Roegler, has campaigned against it for 13 years, saying it will deter tourists and ruin the landscape. She won a seat in the regional parliament in last week’s vote.

The bridge and road that leads to it will feed traffic through a forest that provides water to the steep, slate-soil slopes that make wines from the vineyards distinctive.

Winemakers and connoisseurs say the digging and tree removal will affect water supply to the vines, as well as disrupting the tranquility and views of one of the most picturesque parts of Germany.

“We welcome this pause in the construction and very much hope it leads to a permanent stop,” said Sarah Washington, a British resident of Uerzig who has coordinated the protest campaign. “We look forward to discussing alternatives.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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