The Autobahn 49 in northern Hesse is getting a little longer.

After around eleven years of construction, the 11.8 kilometer long gap between Neuental and Schwalmstadt is to be opened to traffic next Thursday.

The district administrator of the Schwalm-Eder district, Winfried Becker (SPD), expects this to give the region a boost in development.

On the one hand, the traffic opening is an "important signal" for all residents of the busy federal highway 3, who will now be significantly relieved, said Becker.

"Furthermore, closing the gap will bring important economic impulses for the region of North Hesse and the Schwalm-Eder district." But not only the companies in the district are benefiting from the expansion, said Becker with a view to the planned connection to the A5 near Homberg (Ohm).

"The entire northern Hessian, rural area is thus connected to the regional transport network."

Noise protection walls on the A49 are still missing

According to the responsible federal highway company, the first construction work for the now completed section with four viaducts and an almost 900 meter long tunnel began in 2011. The costs amount to around 250 million euros.

Of course, it is now essential that "sufficient noise protection measures are taken along the A49 and the A7 in the existing structure," explained District Administrator Becker.

Overall, however, he is very certain that the people in the district will improve their quality of life.

"That's why I'm an absolute supporter of further construction and closing the gap."

The A49 is to lead from Kassel and the A7 to central Hesse to the future Ohmtal triangle with a connection to the A5.

So far, traffic has only rolled to Neuental.

The two remaining and highly controversial sections of the new route in central Hesse are still under construction.

The opening for traffic is expected there for 2024.

While the A49 advocates hope for relief for traffic in the towns and stimuli for the economy, critics see the environment and climate threatened by further construction.

The start of construction work to close the gap in central Hesse, for which dozens of hectares of forest were cleared at the end of 2020, was accompanied by violent protests.