Area around bombed government complex starts reopening

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The area around Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo, badly damaged in last summer’s terrorist bombing, was starting to reopen for pedestrians and bicyclists this week. The buildings themselves remain empty, mostly boarded up and forlorn.

Rigmor Aasrud, the government minister in charge of the reconstruction project, told reporters last week that initial efforts to secure the buildings and clear the rubble has been “demanding” and won’t be completed until next summer. By Christmas, however, government officials hope to know what buildings may be torn down and replaced, and which ones can be saved. Costs will play a key role, along with the feelings of those employees who don’t want to return to the scene of the terrorist bombing.

Debate runs high on whether the high-rise that housed the Office of the Prime Minister and the Justice Ministry will be spared the wrecker’s ball, or torn down and replaced with an entirely new building. Calls are rising to preserve the high-rise as the centerpiece of the government complex known as Regjeringskvartalet.

In the meantime, construction crews would start removing security fences and Akersgata, the main street running through the complex, would partially reopen but not for vehicular traffic. Memorial services will be held at the site on July 22, the first anniversary of the bombing that killed eight persons, injured many more and forced relocation of most government ministries.

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