Fear of children: Berlin school to build a bus base in Pankow

1.2 million euros costs

Fear of the children: Berlin school must build a bus base

06.07.2022, 17:03

| Reading time: 7 minutes

A new school building with heavy bus traffic right in front of the door: Assol Urrutia-Grothe from Pankows

A new school building with heavy bus traffic right on the doorstep: Assol Urrutia-Grothe from Pankow’s “School One” and police officer Frank Borchardt are concerned about children’s safety. BVG sees no problem here.

Photo: Thomas Schubert / Berliner Morgenpost

Trapped in a contract: “School One” will soon open the first new school building in Berlin with its own BVG turntable – against its will.

Berlin. There are days when Assol Urrutia-Grothe feels like a school planner, investor and traffic specialist rolled into one. But here, on a concrete square from the GDR era in Pankow’s Hadlichstrasse, she is really only concerned with one thing: As of August, 450 children will be taught in a new building on this very square. And they should come to their place of learning unscathed. A contradiction that threatens to linger with Urrutia-Grothe from the school board “Pankower Früchtchen”. “It’s a disaster,” she says of the second part of the “School One” expansion project. The second part is the 1.2 million euro new construction of the reversing loop for buses in BVG – directly behind the new learning location.

According to the contract with the Pankow District Office, this transport infrastructure project is not a matter for BVG or the Senate. But a case for the “Pankow fruit”. Without the promise to also design the reversal loop to handle six articulated buses, each weighing about 17 tons, “School One” would not have been allowed its extension in the late 2010s. Urrutia-Grothe and her team blatantly agreed. Grumpet, they fulfilled all their obligations.

Pankow fruit, BVG, police, a clinic and the post office share the eye of the needle

But now, shortly before the opening of the new school building on the concrete square in Hadlichstrasse, it is clear how unmanageable and dangerous the traffic situation is actually seen from the point of view of the 450 children. How close the articulated buses gondolas through the remaining alley between the new school building and the local police station in their temporary turnaround loop. How bad the view to the street is due to the tall new building with ocher facade. “It’s just dangerous,” says Urrutia-Grothe.

“We are stunned that this is the intention,” she says, confirming that “Pankower Früchtchen” will actually transform the temporary facility behind the new private school into a small bus station. At a roundabout with a narrow driveway to be shared by the police, ambulances from the Caritas Maria Heimsuchung clinic, Deutsche Post and the residents of a new neighborhood with 300 apartments.

Call for help from “School 1”: BVG sees no danger to children

But with the BVG, you do not see a problem and stick to the plan. “We assess that the danger to school children is extremely low. Hadlichstraße, which has been used by ordinary traffic for years, is a residential area where the speed limit is 30, “explains a spokesman. “A pedestrian area has already been established to make the old school building accessible and to increase safety. The new school building is located on the opposite side of the street, where incoming students can get off almost right in front of the door. ”

That Urrutia-Grothe views the situation differently and is now sounding the alarm on behalf of “School One” does not change the existing contract. A commitment that Pankow’s Transport Councilor Manuela Anders-Granitzki (CDU) sees as binding, even though it has been negotiated by former city councilors. The argument goes that the private school must occupy a public area – namely the car park – for its extension. And in return, the traffic situation must be reorganized. At your own expense and regardless of any danger to children from buses.

From the district’s point of view, there were no alternatives in the densely populated Alt-Pankow

“From a street planning perspective, there is no way to do without the necessary bus-turning loop,” explains City Councilor Anders-Granitzki after reconsidering his authority’s view. “The chosen location for the bus turning loop meets both the technical and functional requirements for a necessary scheduled bus operation as well as the traffic and thus significant public interests.” At the new Hadlichstrasse junction, one can expect “sufficient quality of traffic flow”. .

In other words, all other options for accommodating the reversal loop of the BVG bus in the now densely populated Alt-Pankow urban area are not efficient enough. And then the different needs of the fast-growing district once again meet on Hadlichstraße: at the same time, there is a need for new school places and new capacity for public transport. The need for social infrastructure and plans to adapt mobility to an increasing number of residents contradict each other.

The reversal loop is to be completed in 2024 – but the buses are already coming

The problem is formally solved with a contract between the school, the district of Pankow and BVG. In fact, the school sees itself standing alone with the construction of a bush node with a project unique in Berlin. It must smooth out upheavals in urban growth at its own expense. And at your own risk, as one fears with the “Pankow fruit”.

In fact, the Assol Urratia-Grotes team on Hadlichstrasse has brought lawyers on board who could be seen as the victims of the bottleneck. Most recently in 2024, when the bus’ reversing loop, which is only preliminary today, has been transformed into a full-fledged base including a staff house. But the long yellow BVG trains are already thundering every few minutes between the new school building and Pankow police station.

Pankow police station calls the solution “unsatisfactory”

“An unsatisfactory thing,” said First Police Commissioner Frank Borchardt. “We look forward to proper operation with traffic due to the extra children.” From Borchardt’s point of view, there may be various options for disproving the risk of accidents due to close proximity to students and buses. Rules for one-way streets or residential roads are conceivable, which reduces traffic at the bottleneck. No matter what happens – in the future, police patrol cars will have to maneuver through heavy bus traffic when they are on duty.

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“It has to be safe here,” demands Pankow Green’s traffic expert Patrizia Flores. “It’s a shame that a school has to build a reversal loop, even if it creates something very important for Pankow: places for children.” Flores is just one of many specialist politicians that Urrutia-Grothe on Hadlichstrasse is currently receiving for the on-site visit. She builds an alliance for child safety across all factions. “From the end of August, hundreds of children commute back and forth between the old and the new building. We need a solution before anything happens. “

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