Prague's Blanka Tunnel Complex approved for operation, four years after it opens

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 21.10.2019 08:49:58 (updated on 21.10.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes


The Blanka Tunnel Complex has been approved use, over four years
after cars started driving through it. Until now, it had been in
trial operation.

The change in
designation means little for drivers, but is a source of relief for
City Hall. They will now be able to concentrate on the construction
of the related inner ring road. Administration of the tunnel complex
and routine maintenance will now be handled by the city’s Technical
Road Administration (TSK), which operates other Prague tunnels.

The trial operation
occurred to detect potential shortcomings and to help automate tunnel
management and maintenance.

blanka tunnel
Dignitaries cut the ribbon at Blanka Tunnel in 2015. via Raymond Johnston

“I took up the
post, saying that the long, and, for Praguers, often unpleasant
chapter on the Blanka tunnel had to close as soon as possible.
Therefore, I reorganized the Municipal Investment Department and
created a department purely for the inner ring road so that we can
finish with approval as quickly as possible. And we succeeded today,”
Deputy Minister Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě) said on the City Hall
website.

The main reason for
the delay was the departure of the technological equipment supplier
and the original provider of the trial operation, ČKD Praha Diz. The
overall completion and modifications of the supplied equipment was a
large part of the workload of all participants in the trial
operation.

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

By obtaining final building approval and shifting the agenda to the TSK, the new City Ring Department managed to fulfill a great task, City Hall said. Municipal officials can now devote their full capacity to further downstream constructions, preferably continuing preparations to complete the northeastern part of the inner ring road.

blanka tunnel
Journalists interview the first driver through the tunnel in 2015. via Raymond Johnston

Documentation for
the zoning decision to continue the inner ring road will be provided,
property rights negotiations with the owners will start, and a way of
financing the project will be sought.

The approval for the
capital also formally means that the investment costs for the
construction of the tunnels will not increase further.

The Blanka Tunnel Complex opened September 19, 2015, some four years behind schedule. Planning started in 1993 and construction began in 2006. The cost at the time of opening was at least 43 billion CZK, while the initial budget was 21.2 billion CZK. It is about 5.5 kilometers long and has three sections: Bubenečský, Dejvický and Brusnický. Overall, it can carry 30 million cars per year.

blanka tunnel
Entrance to Blanka Tunnel just before it opened in 2015. via Raymond Johnston

It is closed to pedestrians, but in its first year of operation, some 270 people tried to cross the tunnel on foot including two women with baby carriages. Some wildlife has been spotted using the tunnel including rabbits, foxes and weasels.

Plans for an inner ring road go all the way back to the 1960s, when three concentric rings were proposed. Current plans call for two, the inner ring road, or Městský okruh, and outer ring road, or (Pražský okruh). While the city is responsible for the inner ring road, the outer one is being overseen by the Transport Ministry.

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