A Bridge Too Far?


(The Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard from the village of Wehlen. The white dot in the centre left section is the sundial)

Driving through Germany I’ve been amazed at how many ginormous bridges they have on their autobahns.

Deep river valleys are no obstacle: they simply build massive pylons to support the road so that impatient drivers can simply shoot across the top at the usual 130km/hour without having to bother about irritating descents and ascents. So the new high-level bridge currently being built across the Mosel near Urzig shouldn’t be a big surprise. It’s more of the same.

Some of the winemakers I spoke to were not concerned: they said the much-discussed shadow the bridge was expected to cast would not disturb any important vineyards, and anyway, the shadow shifts quite quickly as the sun moves in its arc. The Mosel vineyards are famously full of sundials (the ‘sonnenuhrs’ of Wehlen, Zeltingen and Brauneberger Juffer, to name three), so maybe this should be regarded as Germany’s biggest sundial.

All jests aside, Katharina Prum, of Joh. Jos. Prum (tastings), is a major opponent of what she says will be an eyesore: a big, ugly concrete thing that they won’t see in Wehlen (where Prum is based), but the people of Urzig and Zeltingen will. “It’s not like a small, pretty bridge” of which there are many crossing the river.

She says the construction, which is Europe’s biggest bridge building project, is still uncertain because geologists have questioned whether the land on one side of the Mosel is stable enough to safely support a bridge. This is why there are pylons on only one side so far. She says the bridge was funded by a stimulus package voted in during the GFC, and is being built for the wrong reasons. It is to connect the North Sea port area with the Mainz area and its budget airline and freight airport, Hahn.

There’s a feeling that the bridge has proceeded so far that it cannot be stopped. It seems you can’t get in the way of progress.

*Wehlener Sonnenuhr is the signature wine of J.J. Prum. From their tasting room by the water in the village of Wehlen, you have a full view of the steep vineyard directly across the river. The family-owned winery owns 7.5 hectares of the 43 hectare total area. 

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