Trace options of the Pyhrn-Autobahn across Graz MVD Austria / Graz Museum, 2019

The Car-friendly Murvorstadt

A motorway across the Mur River, across a residential area or through the Plabutsch? As from the 1950s, the explosive increase of car traffic presented Graz in particular with big challenges. What came in addition was the traffic generated by the foreign workers from Yugoslavia streaming to the north. In 1970, the Municipal Council under social democratic Mayor Gustav Scherbaum resolved to route the highway as an underfloor route through the working-class residential areas in the west. A citizens’ initiative was formed and the city motorway project was prevented. As an alternative, the Plabutsch Tunnel was opened in 1987.

Collage, Sources: Stadtvermessungsamt, 2015; Freytag-Berndt, around 1970; Neue Zeit, 15. Mai 1970; Kleine Zeitung, 16. Mai 1970
scale 1 : 7500
Lender: MVD Austria / Graz Museum
MVD Austria / Graz Museum

A Success of Direct Democracy

In the 1970s, the growing motorisation of the population and a car-friendly city were regarded as signs of prosperity and as modern. Politics and the economy decided things without asking the population of Graz: The planned motorway in Graz, to relieve transit and city traffic, was to be led directly through settlements and the homes of around 1,000 residents were to be demolished. Factors such as economic efficiency, traffic and cost efficiency were more important than questions of environmental protection and quality of life.

Due to the formation of the citizens’ initiative, noise protection, emissions and environmental pollution were given higher priority. The Plabutsch tunnel with the Webling entrance was the most expensive solution, but the best in the overall system, and received clear approval in a referendum in 1975.