Local news translated – Feb 29, 2024

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Feb. 29, 2024

Streetcars and buses at a standstill – strike causes traffic jams in Stuttgart

The public transportation strike continues. Today and on Friday, commuters in and around Stuttgart must be prepared for disruptions. At Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB), most bus lines and trains, as well as the rack railroad, streetcars and the SSB Flex on-demand service are currently not running.
The night buses will also be canceled on Friday and Saturday nights. The buses on routes 53, 54, 58, 60, 64, 66, 73 and 90 in Stuttgart, which are operated by SSB contractors, are exempt from the strikes. The strike caused long traffic jams in Stuttgart on Thursday morning. According to a spokesperson for the Stuttgart traffic control center, in addition to traffic jams in the city center, there was also increased traffic on Heilbronner Straße and Auerbachstraße (*from RB coming) in the direction of Pragsattel . In the afternoon, commuters should expect increased traffic on Heilbronner Straße, Cannstatter Straße and on the B 10, B 14 and in the area of the Rosenstein Tunnel.
In the morning, numerous SSB employees and Verdi gathered at the SSB light rail center in Möhringen for the strike.  The city center will also be full on Friday. In addition to an SSB rally on Stuttgart’s market square, protests by the construction industry and the announced climate strike announced by Fridays for Future will cause traffic jams in the City Ring area.  The alliance “Impulse for housing construction” is also planning a rally with three convoys starting from Cannstatter Wasen, from Waldau in Degerloch and from Birkenkopf between 10 and 10.30 am. A rally will take place on Karlsplatz between 11 am and 1 pm. According to the traffic control center, there may also be traffic obstructions in these areas during this period. (SN, Feb 29, 2024)


Criminal damage to the New Palace in Stuttgart – Perpetrator got caught in new attempt

It’s a rather hackneyed saying: the perpetrator always returns to the scene of the crime. In many cases it is not true at all. But exceptions prove the rule. This applies to the extensive damage to the New Palace in Stuttgart. Last Friday night, 15 windows and a door on the first floor in the cour d’honneur area were severely damaged. Paving stones were apparently used as projectiles. According to the Ministry of Finance, the damage amounted to around 20,000 euros.

According to information, the suspect was arrested fairly quickly. This was because he had apparently actually returned to the scene of the crime. The 39-year-old man is said to have been hanging around in the area the following night. He may even have been about to repeat his crime when the castle’s security guards became aware of him. When the security guards confronted him and called the police, he apparently admitted to the damage to property during questioning.  As rooms of the Ministry of State, the Ministry of Economics and the Ministry of Finance were affected in the palace, a politically motivated act could not be ruled out. The State Security Service therefore took over the investigation. According to the police, however, it appears to be a lone perpetrator with no political background. Rather, the man is said to be mentally unstable. He will be brought before a judge later today, who will have to decide what to do with the suspect.
There has also been much discussion about the video surveillance at Schlossplatz in connection with the incidents. This is because the police cameras were switched off at the time of the crime, as they only run on Saturday and Sunday nights. However, the state also has cameras at the castle itself. One of them is aimed at the entrance area and apparently also recorded the damage to property. However, these were ultimately no longer needed – the perpetrator apparently gave himself away with his latest visit. (SN, Feb 29, 2024)


Dispute over driving bans in the Stuttgart city has intensified.

Stuttgart’s Mayor Frank Nopper (CDU) is not prepared to accept the fact that State Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) wants to maintain the driving bans for older diesel vehicles in Stuttgart, even though the limit values for pollutants have now been complied with for several years.    Nopper reminds us of the requirements: “If we have fixed limit values and we fall below them for the third time in a row, it is no longer possible to explain to the citizens why we are sticking to the ‘small environmental zone’.” This includes the valley basin and the districts of Bad Cannstatt, Feuerbach and Zuffenhausen. The restrictions continue to apply in this area. Nopper accuses the state of making decisions at its own discretion. Other cities in the state also had to contend with excessive concentrations of pollutants and had to accept restrictions on car traffic as a result. However, these so-called environmental zones were lifted in many places after the air quality had measurably improved. Stuttgart should not be treated arbitrarily differently to other cities in the state, said Nopper. “The Ministry of Transport is clearly setting different limit values at its own discretion. I therefore call on Transport Minister Winfried Hermann once again to question his questionable ban behavior.”

In a recent answer to a question from FDP transport politician Friedrich Haag, the Ministry of Transport raises concerns “that the limit values will be exceeded again if older vehicles with higher pollutant emissions are allowed to re-enter the environmental zones”. The ministry brings so-called limit concentrations into play, which are relevant for the lifting of driving bans. It is still unclear how high these may be in the case of Stuttgart. “The Ministry of Transport has asked the Baden-Württemberg State Institute for the Environment to determine the limit concentration at which the traffic bans in Stuttgart can be lifted,” writes Berthold Frieß, Ministerial Director of the State Ministry of Transport. “The low emission zone and thus the traffic bans in Stuttgart cannot be lifted at present, as compliance with the limit values is not guaranteed if this measure is lifted,” the ministry clarifies. Nopper had already urged the Ministry to lift the restrictions in October last year. Hermann had decided that although the measured values were below the limit values, they were still too high. A view that Nopper disagrees with. After falling below the limit values for three years, he is firmly in favor of an end to the “small environmental zone”. (SN, Feb 29, 2024)