Even more traffic disruption is expected as highway and construction officials launch into the next phase of waterfront redevelopment at Bjørvika in Oslo. On Wednesday they were urging motorists to stay out of the area around Oslo’s Opera House for at least the next year.
The area has been torn up for nearly 10 years already but from Thursday, it will get much worse. All vehicular traffic, including 190 busses a day, will have to use what amounts to a two-lane frontage road running in front of the Opera. A heavily trafficked rotary at the intersection leading to Highway 4 north of the city will be closed, and even the popular and heavily used drop-off area for Oslo’s central train station (Oslo S) at Christian Frederiks Plass will be closed.
It will be nearly impossible to drive anyone to the train station, and officials are urging all passengers to use public transport to and from Oslo S, although some taxi stands will continue to function.
From December 1, the new Nordenga Bridge over the railroad tracks will also be closed, replaced only by an expanded Nylandsveien Bridge, which also leads to Highway 4.
“This will probably be the most difficult and demanding period of the entire redevelopment project,” Rikke Brouer-Wangen of highway department Statens Vegvesen told newspaper Aftenposten.
It’s spurred by the start of construction for Oslo’s new main city library, Deichmanske Bliblioteket, and a new office building called “Diagonal” next to the Opera House. The construction sites lie where traffic now runs, meaning the existing roads will be blocked.
“Our clear advice to motorists, both private car owners and taxi drivers, is not to use Operagaten (the narrow remaining road in front of the Opera) when traveling east-west or west-east, and instead make a detour and use the Opera Tunnel under the fjord,” Brouer-Wangen told Aftenposten.
Officials at bus line operator Ruter were bracing for the worst and admitted they were skeptical of the new plans, “but we see that there weren’t many alternatives to solve this,” said Jan Erik Pedersen of Ruter. They were hoping delays wouldn’t be as bad as in earlier phases of the project.
Oslo’s entire eastern waterfront at Bjørvika is undergoing massive transformation, with construction of commercial, residential, retail and public buildings including the Opera, the new library and, eventually, the new Munch Museum. A new traffic system is due to be in place through Bjørvika sometime in 2015.