Inhabitants of Uhříněves protest against marked increase in traffic

Photo: Martin Svozílek

Inhabitants of the Prague suburb of Uhříněves are fast growing tired of increased traffic along one of the district’s major roads. Transport trucks heading in the direction of Hradec Kralové have taken to using the route as a short-cut. On Monday several dozen people gathered to demonstrate against the traffic, which has led to increased noise pollution and smog.

Photo: Martin Svozílek
That it is unpleasant for inhabitants of a previously quiet Prague suburb to now have to put up with an influx of eighteen wheelers is probably an understatement. Czech TV, reporting on site on Monday, counted some 50 trucks in the space of five minutes, - one every six seconds. On Monday several dozen people, irked by the constant rumble of semi-trailer trucks, delays, smog and noise pollution hosted a demonstration to say “enough is enough”. Wearing paper face masks they stopped traffic briefly themselves to hand out flyers expressing their opposition and explaining the situation to motorists. Inhabitant Michaela Kobrlová, who has lived in Uhříněves for three years, told Czech TV this:

“It’s terrible now, because there is now constant and never-ending traffic along the main route.”

Cars and especially trucks travelling from Brno (on the D1) and onwards in the direction of Hradec Kralove (the D11) should be taking a section of highway known as Jižní spojka – but that already is often heavily congested, so many truckers have opted for the short cut through the district of Uhříněves instead. If it were finished, a new section of the Prague ring road would provide a solution but at the moment ends in the middle of nowhere. That has left many more than a little annoyed. Petr Souček was one of the organisers of Monday’s protest:

“We are bothered by the fact that the ring road was planned for 23 years and here they have not yet broken ground.”

Photo: Martin Svozílek
As it stands, the soonest that construction will begin there will be in three years; at the very least a new ecological impact assessment will have to be completed satisfying European requirements before construction of the ring road continues. Jan Kroupa is the head of the country’s Road and Motorway Directorate:

“If everything goes smoothly and no problems arise, we could start construction as soon as in three years. But if there is even one complication, the start could be delayed by seven.”

News website iDnes notes that Prague’s Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek pledged in June that vehicles over 12 metres in length, meaning semi-trailer trucks, would be banned from driving through the city centre so long as the Prague ring road remains incomplete. That ban could be introduced at the beginning of next year.