29 November 2011
In the Moravian city of Brno, the transportation system was historically developed as a radial system, due to the fact that all the main streets were directed to its centre. By the 20th Century, the system had gradually changed to a radial-circular system, with the northern region in particular being the most heavily urbanised segment of the city, supported by three city ring roads: the inside circuit road (mural), the small city circuit road and the large city circuit road.
During the second half of the 20th Century, traffic on these city roads increased, alongside the development of the car industry. By the end of the Century, the amount of traffic on these roads had negatively influenced, among other things, the speed and quality of public transportation – the essential and highly preferred form of transport for Brno's citizens.
Since the 1960s, the municipality of the city has been progressively preparing the idea of the construction of a new III.rd (large) city circuit road, whose route, capacity and technical solution would compensate for the increasing traffic together with requirements to protect the city centre against the negative effects of transit and inner-city transportation.
The I/42 road creates the third city circuit in Brno, the so-called 'large city circuit road', or VMO. To date, the length of this circuit is 19.5km. The current state of this third city circuit road is for most of its length unsatisfactory in terms of capacity, as well as in terms of its influence on the environment. Overall, the largest problems are noise, vibrations and emissions. The road also creates a barrier that blocks the natural development of the city, and cuts through large parts of it, including Královo Pole, Židenice and Staré Brno, with 30 intersections controlled by traffic lights.
Region stabilisation – the significance of VMO
The basic parameters of the VMO characterised it as being the local highway with flyover connections to the city or long haul roads, and only in special cases was it to be connected to residential areas. In the cross-section, the road is made up of two separated two-lane roads with an emergency lane. Overall, less than 4km out of the total 20km of VMO satisfies these parameters.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the roads of the western and northern segments of VMO were stabilised within a new city plan and preparation for a new project started. This was established in the eastern segment a few years later.
The construction itself began in the western segment, where the traffic was very heavy due to transit traffic heading towards the north to the freeway D1 to Prague, D2 to Bratislava, and R52 to Wien.
The southern section of the city is still under discussion, and there are still various studies to be done to help with revitalisation and urbanisation of this territory in the context of the initiation transfer of the main railway station to a new position outside the existing cramped space on the border of the historical centre.
The main gains to be realised from the construction of the new VMO for the city of Brno include the implementation of a three-stage protection system against transportation, and the positive effects to be derived from this:
•The effective protection of the urbanised city centre against the remaining transport network, which does not have a source or termination in the inner-city circuit road;
•The optimal solution of city and agglomerative transportation;
•Considerate and fast transfer of transit transportation from the north to the freeways in the south, until the completion of the highway R43 outside the main agglomeration;
•The effective transfer of all kinds of transportation to outside the city centre, and, at the same time, protecting the environment as much as possible;
•The balanced connection of the transportation systems of the different parts of the city;
•The opportunity to ease some of the congestion on the roads;
•The revitalisation of areas of the city along the VMO for public use;
•The opportunity for further development and urbanisation of Brno and agglomeration in terms of the necessary capacity of the road network;
•Fluency and safety of the transportation system.
As far as traffic is concerned, above all the VMO is:
•An inner-city road, with the aim of redirecting most of the city-wide and interregional traffic, and to develop a source and purposeful city transportation outside the residential areas;
•An agglomeration, with the aim of redistributing traffic from the nearby agglomeration to the city parts;
•For transit, with the aim of transferring transit traffic to the north-south direction until the completion of the outer highway R43 outside of the main agglomeration – a time restraining function.
As previously mentioned, the VMO is divided into four geographical sections based on the cardinal points. The criterion is the important roads – freeway feeder roads – from the west Pražská, the north Svitavská, the east Ostravská and the south roads Bratislavská and Víderˇská. Separate sections have the better public orientation topographical signs.
The planning and phasing of the project preparation and construction were based on the most serious traffic and environmental problems, together with regional preparedness. Introducing some basic information about the finished and realised constructions, it is necessary to acknowledge that these constructions were very demanding in terms of projection, construction and mostly financing. VMO comprises flyover intersections, bridges and scaffold bridges, as well as seven tunnel constructions of a total length of 4.9km.
The first significant construction – the western 'pražský' feeder towards VMO, with the Pisáracký bridge connecting to the flyover intersection with the Hlinky tunnel – began in the early Nineties, and was finished in 2007; this was one of the most difficult construction projects in the history of Moravian metropolis.
Following this was the renovation of the existing roads of VMO Žabovrˇesky II, which goes through Žabovrˇesky, particularly in terms of improving the sound protection shield; this construction will be completed this year.
The construction of the most significant part of the north-western segment of VMO – the Královopolský tunnel (part of VMO Dobrovského) – is currently taking place, including the connection of the Svitavské roads to VMO. The tunnel underground is 1,237m long and consists of two tubes made of plastic clay joined together. This unique method, in combination with other protective precautions, has completely minimised its impact on the heavily built-up Královo Pole, even though the overburden is around 20m. Completion of this project is expected in summer 2012.
Construction is still being looked over by those leading the public private initiatives, and it is unclear how the construction will be finished, or whether sound protection shields are to be added. Even though the construction is proposed with high standards and positive effects in mind in relation to its surroundings (sound protection galleries with a 'green roof'), there are still legal instruments that make it possible to challenge the construction and cast doubt in the minds of investors as well as the public.
Out of the 5km – the whole length of the north-western segment – only 1.5km needs to be started to complete the construction of VMO Žabovrˇesky I. Here, the preparation process has been debated for a long time, with an unclear vision of the style and range of environmental protection required due to the area being a narrow valley lane that is connected to a significant forest region in the middle of the city. The solution will consist of a large number of environmental precautions, and the project's plans are due to be finished so that construction can begin in 2012 at the latest.
In 1999, the Husovický tunnel was finished in the north-eastern section of VMO, which, in 2002, was connected to the Svitavská road as a half profile new road. The completion of the intersection with the construction of the Královopolský tunnel is currently proceeding.
VMO – the future
In the coming years, we are expecting to start other follow-up constructions of the Husovický tunnel – VMO Tomkovo Square and VMO Rokytova. Construction will take place in an area where the capacity of the present road has been exceeded, having a negative influence on a nearby residential area. Part of the construction will also divert traffic from the Židenice part of the city, where the state of the environment is unbearable. The completion of both sections are planned for 2015.
These new constructions should create a comprehensive, modern and more considerate traffic route for the surrounding area for a total length of almost 9km. Most of the remaining sections in the south-eastern as well as the south-western section are already in compliance with the ground plan, and ground as well as detailed technical studies have been processed.
The only exceptions are two sections in the south segment of the city, where studies of the variable solutions are still being processed. The reason for the delay is the preparation and construction of a new main railway station for Brno, which will be linked to the adjustment of the railway network in the city. Ambiguity in the completion term of this prioritised construction, which is on the transit lane in a TEN-T network, is a reason to search for an optimal route and phasing of construction, with the aim of releasing the highly ambitious city developmental area, 'Jižní centrum', which can be compared to the reconstruction of the Südbahnhof station in Vienna.
The VMO comprises, in addition to its own road network, flyover intersections, bridges and scaffold bridges, as well as the construction of seven tunnels with a total length of 4.9km. The total completion of the whole VMO is planned in 2030; however, this depends on financing and continuity of the preparation stage. The total cost is estimated to be CZK39.7m, or €1.58m (according to 2010 prices).