D3 construction raises concerns about noise and water loss

Tunnels or bridges in Posázaví, parking lots for trucks, and the construction of water pipelines. All this is planned as part of the construction of the missing part of the D3 motorway from Prague to České Budějovice via the Benešov region. However, the intention raises several concerns.

Representatives of the municipalities affected by the planned construction in Posázaví and other parts of the region had the opportunity to debate with representatives of the state and the Road and Motorway Directorate (ŘSD) on Thursday in Jílové u Prahy and express their comments or criticisms.

Around fifty or deputy mayors arrived from the camp of opponents and supporters of the planned western route D3.

Some pointed mainly to poor communication with the Regional Directorate of Transport. “We are angry that they do not communicate with us. We get some promises at the meeting, but then nothing happens; they forget about us,” said Monika Šlehobrová, the mayor of Netvořice (Change Netvořice).

“We had a meeting last May, they promised to send a draft of the minutes, but they didn’t arrive until the end of December. Water is also supposed to be taken from Netvořice for a rest area on the motorway, but we are not even parties to the proceedings. We were promised we would be involved, but again, nothing happened,” the mayor added.

Transport Minister Martin Kupka (ODS) immediately responded. I guarantee you will receive the entries within 30 days; this must change,” Kupka responded to the criticism of the state enterprise, whose director Radek Mátl was sitting next to him.

Other mayors warned of the risk of losing groundwater. “Around Jílové, the motorway is to be almost entirely underground; only a small part will be on the surface. Therefore, there are fears that the water could be swept away, not only during the construction itself but also during the excavation of the exploratory tunnels,” Pavel Pešek (Choice for the City), the mayor of Jílový, said.

The same problem is highlighted by the organization Alternativa D3, which is against the motorway construction and insists it is enough to cap the existing I-3 road running through Benešov. “Monitoring of the groundwater situation is underway, and the construction of local water supply systems is being prepared,” confirmed Radek Mátl, the director of the Regional Directorate of Transport.

“The water pipelines must be secured, which is also a condition for the building permit. The construction of water supply systems where there is a risk of water loss must precede the construction of the motorway itself so that the situation is not solved until it is too late,” Kupka assured, and Mátl confirmed that the water supply systems would precede the construction of the motorway. According to Mátl, ŘSD also wants to negotiate with municipalities about noise walls and embankments because the motorway will also mean noise pollution for its surroundings.

Help from transit

Other mayors also expressed that the motorway would not help their municipalities, but they did not share this opinion. This was confirmed by the mayor of Miličín, where the I-3 road runs and splits the village in two. A bypass has been in the works for years, but due to the rugged terrain, it is almost unrealistic and would be prohibitively expensive. “D3 will help us, and it is nonsense to say otherwise. Even if it were possible to relieve only the transit, it would help enormously,” said the mayor of Miličín, Václav Karda (Pro Miličínsko).

The Alternative D3 Association also points to the high construction costs. “This is nonsense, they have an estimate from 2015, and nobody has recalculated it yet. And it is questionable what all is included in it,” Michal Bernard, a legal representative of municipalities and associations from this organization, said.

According to Kupka and Mátl, however, prices have not yet been raised dramatically in construction tenders; for example, the recently completed Olbramovice bypass on the I/3 route was tendered for about 70 to 80 percent of the estimated price.

“We are basing our prices on expert prices. I am not a scientist, and it isn’t easy to estimate what will happen in four years. The price may shift, but so far, the increase in contract prices is not drastic,” Kupka said. According to Mátl, the price includes the nearly 60-kilometer-long motorway route and related connections or land purchase prices.

It will start in two years

In November last year, the Constitutional Court in Brno rejected a complaint against the route, which the Regional Directorate of Transport said was definitive sanctification. Recently, however, the Ministry of the Environment revoked decisions on exemptions from the protection of specially protected species on some sections of the highway. This will likely delay construction and expected appeals or land buyouts.

“By 2024, we would like to have the documentation for the construction permit prepared,” Mátl said. According to optimistic estimates, construction could start in 2025 and be completed by the end of the decade.

Minister Kupka also said on Thursday that the state would not build the Central Bohemian section of the D3 motorway using the so-called PPP project, i.e., with the contribution of private money. According to him, this would be risky due to frequent appeals and lawsuits by opponents of the route.