Four years after the start of construction and felling of trees, tireless anti-GCOs continue to fight the scourge, analyze traffic and communicate extensively, while the file will be re-examined in January at the administrative court. They want to support opponents of other similar projects in France.
“We will always be on the road to Vinci, we will not let them lie. This is the promise made by Bruno Dalpra, a historical activist against the Grand Bypass West (GCO) motorway built in Strasbourg between 2018 and 2021 by a multinational company. He’s part of a tough core of about two dozen longtime opponents who exchange ideas weekly via e-mail, meeting every two or three months to set battle strategy, send out press releases or feed social media.
On the frosty morning of December 18, 40 people demonstrated on the roundabout in Dutlenheim, one year after the opening of what they call a “truck lane”. The aim was especially to expose the highway money, which the activists cursed, as explained by Luc Huber, former mayor of Pfettisheim and member of the GCO.
“We underestimated the noise pollution. They are too difficult for some locals who have trouble sleeping. Congestion still exists despite the GCO, and despite these two main arguments, the air quality in Strasbourg has not improved. This infrastructure cost hundreds of millions of euros. Today we can clearly see that it was absurd… all this for?! »
Fight traffic across France
Michaël Kugler participated in a traffic count for 24 consecutive hours, organized by GCO Non merci in June 2022, distinguishing between cars, heavy trucks and light commercial vehicles, to analyze the evolution of traffic:
“We don’t want to let Vinci and the prefecture have a monopoly on numbers. It’s also a way to confirm that we’re following them and that we’re committed. For 20 years, we were right on many issues. These were just speculations before launch, but we can test them today. And our data can be used for other struggles. No one can tell us that the anti-GCOs were fighting for the absence of a highway at the bottom of the garden. Our commitment to transport policy in France is global. »
La Déroute des routes federation is a good example. Consisting of around fifty opposition groups to the various roads now under construction, it was started by three people, including Bruno Dalpra of GCO No thanks. Road Rout calls on parliamentarians to impose a moratorium on road projects in particular. “The government is preparing to revise the transport infrastructure through the orientation board report due in January 2023. We want this multi-billion euro investment plan to focus on train lines, not roads,” explains Bruno. Dalpra.
The legal battle continues
The activist also hopes that the experience of GCO Non merci will be used by other collectives:
“For example, in Rwanda, the arguments for the construction of the city bypass, which is still in the design phase, are very similar to those deployed for the GCO. Competitors will be able to use our balance sheets to communicate. We also talk about the struggle itself, the importance of never giving up, even when a project feels abandoned, as we have. »
For its part, the Alsace Nature Association, a member of GCO No thanks, does not give up the legal fight. In July 2021, an administrative court found many impact studies insufficient. Vinci and the prefecture theoretically had until May 2022 to prepare new studies and issue a further decree to legalize the highway. Finally, the hearing will take place on January 19, and a new public inquiry (thanks to GCO No was also mobilized) ended with a negative opinion on the highway.
Close the highway and use the area for other activities
Luc Huber still believes in the final annulment by the administrative court of the prefectural decree authorizing the GCO:
“If this is the case, we will be in a strong position to demand other more relevant activities, such as the installation of relocated industries, methanation plants or energy production with photovoltaic panels on these artificial lands. . »
Knowing that this scenario is impossible, he points out above all to the residents of the villages along the highway to fight to limit the problems that they are suffering today:
“The night charge is cheaper, so it encourages trucks to pass at that time, which is very disturbing to local residents (some have measured 60 decibels in their homes at night). This price difference should disappear so that it does not encourage heavy trucks to pick up GCO at night. We are also asking for an eco-tax to make the Alsace crossing more attractive and reduce the number of trucks. »
Lots of activity on social networks
Anti-GCO activists continue to regularly populate their website and social media pages, often posting to their 4,700 Facebook followers several times a day. There are also the connections created by the struggle that Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet is particularly keen to preserve. The priest of Kolbsheim allowed the Zadists to use the presbytery, and he accompanied his parishioners through the trauma of a nearby deforestation. In September, he and some other anti-GCOs organized the third edition of the Ten Days of Future Green festival in his village. And he intends to continue in the coming years:
“Fighting this highway has allowed me to build strong relationships between activists, peasants, zadists and artists. There are conferences, concerts, shows or demonstrations. The goal is also to look to the future after what we have experienced, to think about the world. »
“The eye continues to burn”
The pastor is now part of GreenFaith, an international, multi-faith and environmental movement. It brings together followers of many religions who engage in various modes of action, going as far as civil disobedience. “It keeps burning,” said Michael Coogler. “Even if the GCO is there now, we will at least be happy that our conscience is there for us,” philosopher Luc Huber:
“We’ve never fantasized like GCO advocates, we’ve always been as fair as possible in our demands, for example we’ve tried to be constructive with our 10 solutions manual for traffic jams. Moreover, the metropolitan express network (SNCF is trying to launch from December 11, editor’s note) was part of it. We have always been sincerely in favor of common interests. So it makes sense that we continue our fight against the GCO’s woes now, as there are still levers of action today. »
In September and October 2018, thousands of people mobilized during demonstrations in Kolbsheim, Vendenheim or Strasbourg, when the forests were razed to the ground at the start of the construction of the motorway. For Bruno Dalpra, demonstrating the discrepancy between Da Vinci’s discourse and reality, highlighting the lies, also serves to develop the militant and environmental consciousness of those who have followed GCO No thanks all these years. According to him, the struggle with this highway has also created great civic expertise among activists and this will continue.