A 71 motorway

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A 71 motorway

A 71 motorway
We clear the way

Motorways change landscapes. In the Thuringian Forest, an enduro rider observes the change in his home route due to the construction of the new A 71. Stefan Feldhoff was on the road with him.

Stefan Feldhoff


Green. Green. Green. Fir green, forest green, moss green, lime green, reseda green, jade green and probably even British racing green. A variety of shades of green that one would hardly expect to find in the German forest. A road that is no longer asphalt and not yet a forest path winds its way between the towering fir trees. Hans and I roar along it in our enduro bikes until an excursion restaurant with a lookout tower lets us turn off the engines. From here you can see the Kickelhahn. Hans is already ordering coffee, cake, sausages with potato salad while I am studying the map. Soon a motorway will run through this forest, will it pass here? Then the crooked garden chairs we sit on may be replaced by plastic furniture and the old linden trees by parasols. And while the landlady is serving us what we want on simple, already lightly chipped dishes, self-service in a motorway service station might be the order of the day, probably with a sonorous name like “Thuringian Forest” or “Rennsteig”, and in any case with a standard express menu menu. But that’s speculation. What is certain is that the motorway is already under construction as part of the German Unity transport project. It should run as the A 71 from Erfurt through the Thuringian Forest to Schweinfurt and as the A 73 in a south-easterly direction from Suhl to Lichtenfels. A total of 223 kilometers of slopes, with 43 bridges – 17 of which are longer than 500 meters – and 14.5 kilometers of tunnels. In Thuringia alone, 17 junctions will create new traffic connections. The route is thinly drawn on the map, and Hans, who lives on the paved and unpaved roads of Thuringia, spontaneously declares himself ready to take me along the route of the future autobahn. But not without doing a round of the Erfurt scene. The Thuringian capital, where Martin Luther and his monk vows and Adam Riese had his arithmetic book printed, has undergone a truly noticeable change in recent years. Today, the city no longer only attracts with its art-historical features, but also with an extremely attractive pub scene. As we walk through the stony gorges of the Latin Quarter, over the Kramerbrucke with its narrow houses and the magnificent Domplatz, numerous cafes and bars make the hike much easier. The P 33, the label or the Silbermund – Hans and I never end. We are supposed to start the next morning, the enduros wake up after a few hard kicks on the kick starter. Maps and compass are in the tank bag, but no scout training is required to locate the starting point of the new highway. At the gates of the city lies the lovely castle landscape of the “Three Equals”. Interwoven with the landscape is the legend of Count von Gleichen and his two wives, which at the time inspired Goethe, who lived in Thuringia for several years, to write a play. “It’s still popular today,” says Hans, who as a theater manager should know. Three castles, rare plants, a lake and, unfortunately, the busy A 4, characterize the landscape. There is a lot of work going on, the A 4 is being expanded to six lanes and a new motorway junction is being created. Because this is where it will begin, the new A 71. Immediately next to the baroque Molsdorf castle. Behind the park, the bridge over the Gera will be widened and a second overpass will be built for the turning lane. Reinforcing steel pillars grow upwards, concrete mixers rumble over temporary bridges, workers direct the trunks of the concrete pumps into the correct position, next to them container blocks as offices and accommodation. In the background, the pleasure palace shines almost embarrassed in the sunshine. The new A 71 is already used as a traffic route for construction vehicles. Broad and stuck, she resolutely strives towards the blue heights of the Thuringian Forest. The first 25 kilometers between Molsdorf and Trabdorf will be built as a so-called bundling section. This means that the motorway and the future Nuremberg-Erfurt railway line run on the same route here. All traffic planning nowadays has to be environmentally friendly, should devour as little natural terrain as possible. We follow the route on secondary routes and an old, bumpy tank road. The hilly country gently undulates. Villages are hidden in the shallow depressions, typical for this region, only the protruding church spiers reveal their hiding place. One of them leads us unerringly to the “Goldener Lowe” restaurant in Dannheim. Thuringian cuisine is known for its dumplings and good bratwurst. But you can never order both together. The friendly waitress refuses, and Hans also shakes his head. So quickly order a beer made from hops and malt as well as a few sausages – and the Thuringian world is all right again. Geographically, then home is almost part of Arnstadt, which once claimed the title of the oldest city in the German Democratic Republic. Even if the rank of senior was lost with reunification, the small town at the foot of the Thuringian Forest is worth a detour. Not least for lovers of baroque music: Johann Sebastian Bach worked here in his younger years, as a monument shows. However, none of the usual ones with an allonge wig and fat cheeks. Rather, it shows the young organist as the pointed-nosed lout who made the virtuous Arnstadters almost despair until he was thrown out “with indicated displeasure.” After all, he had “made many wonderful variations” in his chorales and had a “strange maiden” play music on top of that. It is hardly surprising that the unconventional monument of the brazen guy in the middle of the beautiful, venerable market square was also heavily controversial among the people of Arnstadt at the beginning. In the meantime, however, there are organ weeks in his honor every summer. Bach got married in the village church in Dornheim. Heavy trucks are now thundering past there, pouring gravel and sand for the new route. Behind Roda it disappears in a tunnel, then leads a little further south and ends at Trabdorf for the time being. From now on we have to rely on a rough map and assumptions when searching for further clues. Will the motorway run north or south of the Heyda dam? Who knows? There is still a water protection area here, but the path to the gravel pit is clear. Behind it we follow a lonely sandy path to the south. Even when the machines lurch, we step on the gas. Dune dreams in the Thuringian Forest. At Ilmenau, the dirt road lets us back onto the federal road. A little further away, an old trade route runs parallel to federal road 4. Only an old stone indicates it, otherwise green fir and calm. Will the federal highway expect a similar fate after the completion of the A 71? If the traffic planners have their way, yes. »The transport connection to southern Thuringia compensates for location disadvantages and creates incentives for potential investors. The tourism industry in particular will benefit from the better accessibility, «says a brochure from the Thuringian Ministry of Economics. “Well,” Hans points out during a coffee break, “the environmentalists have completely different ideas.” Over the past two summers, they have protested against the project with bicycle demonstrations along the planned route. Their argument is that the economic upswing would even roll past the Thuringian Forest thanks to the new route. They also point out the costs, which are now three times as high as planned, and hope that the whole thing will eventually fall into the big budget gap. But it doesn’t look like it. Bridge construction has already started in the Simson city of Suhl. Here one promises an inner-city relief from the autobahn. We sit again in this unbelievably green forest, on some wobbly garden chairs and discuss our heads hotly. We do, however, agree on one thing. When the street workers finish their day’s work and park the construction vehicles in a row, then we will use them, the quiet runway, and roast home all by ourselves.


Even beyond the planned A 71 motorway, the Thuringian Forest offers motorcyclists and especially enduro riders an exciting area of ​​discovery and enough green terrain for extended tours. Below are a few tips for trips on and next to the Thuringian bend roads.

Arrival: From the north and west via the A4 Bad Hersfeld – Dresden motorway to the Arnstadt or Erfurt West exit. From southern Germany you can reach the Thuringian Forest via the well-developed federal highways B 4 Bamberg – Erfurt or B 19 Wurzburg – Eisenach. Accommodation: The cheapest are private rooms that are arranged by the local tourist offices. Recommended hotels are, for example, the centrally located Hotel Ibis; Barfuberstrabe 9, 99084 Erfurt, phone 0361/66410, middle price range. In Suhl the Hotel Thuringia, Platz der Deutschen Einheit, 98527 Suhl, phone 03681/303890, upper price range. There is a youth hostel at Hochheimer Strabe 12 in 99094 Erfurt. Gastronomy: Especially in the village inns you can get excellent Thuringian cuisine for little money. Standard dishes are beef roulade or leg of goose with Thuringian dumplings and red cabbage. If you’re feeling peckish, we recommend a Thuringian bratwurst, which is served fresh from the grill on the roadside.Enduro: In Thuringia, many dirt roads are still open to public transport. They are ideal for enduro hiking. Nature and water protection areas are of course taboo, and prohibition signs should be observed. Literature: For a motorcycle hike through the Thuringian Forest, we recommend the Mairs leisure card “Thuringian Forest”, 1: 100,000, for 9.80 marks and the ribbon “Thuringia” from the MERIAN live! for 14.90 marks. Anyone interested in the culture and history of the state capital should buy the city guide “Erfurt on foot” from Hermann H. Saitz for 12.80 marks in the local bookstore.

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