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Emergency Lanes Might Open on M7 to Prevent Extreme Traffic Jams

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.07.16.

Most people who have traveled on the M7 motorway in recent years might have been unfortunate enough to experience the massive traffic jams that are frequently present during summertime. Although there is currently no plan for the expansion of the M7, with the temporary opening of the emergency lane, the pressure on the motorway could be alleviated to some extent.

As Hungary’s oldest motorway, the M7 runs from Budapest towards the Croatian border at Letenye. The M7 is part of the Helsinki corridor V, which aims to establish a road link between the ports of the Adriatic Sea and Eastern European countries. In the past years, heavy traffic has become a common issue for people trying to go on vacation to Lake Balaton on the weekends during the summer.

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In a recent article, Magyar Nemzet stated: the reason for the congestion is that while the traffic on the highway is normally twelve hundred vehicles per hour, and seventeen hundred vehicles would still represent a manageable amount, during the summer weekend peak hours, this number can easily reach four thousand. The main reason why the motorway is not being expanded despite the extreme vehicle numbers, is due to the fact that the average annual traffic load is not even close to the critical level; it only increases during the summer months.

With the help of IT development, however, the emergency lane could be made available for the traffic, according to László Mosóczi, state secretary for transport policy.

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While the idea could tackle this massive problem, critics of the plan emphasize that the appeal of Lake Balaton is so strong at this time of the year that it is simply not possible to keep up only by temporarily expanding the lanes. It would be better to make the railway services more attractive, by increasing the number of comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles and also increasing the options for bicycle transportation.

Although the situation on the M7 is one of the worst, traffic continues to grow each year all across the country; for example, while the average number of vehicles passing through the M1 in 1995 was twenty thousand, today in some areas these figures reach eighty thousand.

Featured photo illustration by Boglárka Bodnár/MTI