Lichtenberg (dpa/lby) – The planned Franconian Forest bridges in the Hof district will be almost twice as expensive as last planned. According to the current status, construction costs of 40.8 million euros are expected, a spokeswoman for the Hof district office confirmed on Tuesday. The last cost estimate from 2019 was 22.4 million euros. District administrator Oliver Bär (CSU) still wanted to stick to the project, it said. The Free State of Bavaria initially agreed to bear 80 percent of the costs. The “Bayerischer Rundfunk” initially reported on the increase in costs.

According to the Hof district office, suggestions from citizens and associations in the public display of the development plan led to additional costs of around six million euros. Around eight million euros are due to price increases in the construction sector and 4.5 million euros to price increases for steel.

The Franconian Forest Bridges are to cross the Höllental near the town of Lichtenberg and, at more than one kilometer in length, will be the world’s longest suspension bridge for pedestrians. Environmental groups criticize the construction project as a serious encroachment on a sensitive ecosystem. The state association for bird protection fears impairments for species such as eagle owls and peregrine falcons. The expected influx of visitors is also endangering ferns and small plants, said a spokesman for the Bund Naturschutz in Hof recently.

Now calls are being made again to stop the construction project. “In view of the expected price increase, today is a good time to be honest and bury this wishful thinking and prestige project,” write Stefan Schmidt, spokesman for tourism policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, and Tim Pargent, spokesman for finance for the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament, in a joint statement. The Höllental is “highly attractive even without mega bridges”. Its untouched nature should not be carelessly jeopardized.