a new road tunnel alongside city hall?



A second major road tunnel, to the west - under the lakes and possibly on under the harbour to Amager - is now more uncertain but would have much more impact on the inner city than a north-harbour tunnel. 

It is also more controversial than the north tunnel because it would be expensive; because there would be complicated gains but possible losses and because there could be considerable disruption during construction … although, actually, most in the city seem to accept major engineering works as somehow part of everyday life now with the extent of the works and the time scale for the current work on extending the metro system.


the view along Åboulevard - out from the city. The river feeding fresh water into the lakes is now in a culvert below the road 



The first north section of the tunnel was suggested some years ago to follow first under Åboulevard and then under the lakes to emerge on the city side at the north end of H C Andersens Boulevard. At present the road is wide but has very heavy traffic that would be taken underground but that was not, in fact, the primary reason for the scheme. 

Beyond the lakes, this was actually the line of a river feeding fresh water into the lakes until the early 1900s and by taking the road traffic down then the river could be reinstated on the surface, brought up from the culvert that it now runs through. This is not simply a nice piece of landscaping but has a very serious part to play in plans by the city to cope with climate change. 

The problem now and predicted to be much more serious in the future will come from sudden and intense rain storms that overwhelm the existing drain system; floods roads and property; breaks through sewage systems and takes polluted water out into the harbour. By bringing the river back up to the surface to run through a long, narrow and well-planted park, it would be part of the new control of surface water and the lower part of a new road tunnel would be a substantial storm drain and the road, in the upper half of the tunnel. could be closed to traffic to carry water through to holding tanks or out to the harbour in the very worst storms.

However, there has, more recently, been an outline proposal to extend the tunnel on beyond the lakes and on below H C Andersens Boulevard to the harbour and, passing under the harbour, it could then link with traffic in a new tunnel down from Refshaleøen. It has even been suggested that if the tunnel drops down to a lower level, there could be extensive underground car parks close to the city hall that would be accessed from the tunnels so the project has become much more complicated and considerably more expensive.

The advantage would be that the very heavy traffic running along H C Andersens Boulevard - between the city hall and Tivoli - would be removed and the west area of the city, the main railway station and the area beyond, could be more effectively linked with the historic centre. Obviously, it’s not impossible to cross the road when walking from the railway station to the city hall but not pleasant for pedestrians and more than a bit frustrating for drivers. 

Drawings have been published that show a bucolic cycle route and pathway from the city hall to the harbour but in the end that may not be the deciding factor that swings the decision. The reality, unfortunately, is that the threat of terrorist attacks has brought back to the agenda the need to ban traffic from much more of the historic centre and H C Andersens Boulevard, to the west of the city hall, would become the outer line for traffic which might well mean that, without the tunnel, it just could not cope.

Articles that have been published in newspapers and journals recently have pointed out that the present metro system is at full capacity and it is beginning to struggle. With an extensive new metro line opening next year and with work now given the green light for an extension of the metro north to Nordhavn and to the south, to the south harbour area, then perhaps what is neede is a little time to see how this itself changes the way people move around the city. Initial extensions to the area of the centre with restricted access for vehicles needs planning and road signs and a change of habit or routine for citizens but little infrastructure so it will soon become clear just how necessary a western tunnel is or if it can be pushed on down the road … if you see what I mean.