Proposal to Better Unite City Leaves Dresden Divided

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DRESDEN, Germany — The battle to prevent construction of a proposed bridge in this historic city has embroiled everything from a tiny endangered bat, to the country’s reigning literary lion, Günter Grass, to activists who are staging a round-the-clock occupation of a centuries-old beech tree.

Opponents of the project say that the four-lane, 2,100-foot-long span, called the Waldschlösschen Bridge, will mar the famous vistas of Dresden and the picturesque river that divides it, the Elbe. Supporters say it will ease traffic congestion and better link the two sides of the city. And, they add, the project was overwhelmingly approved in a citywide referendum three years ago.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known by its acronym, Unesco, agrees with the opponents. The body has warned local officials that Dresden could lose its place on Unesco’s World Heritage list, an extremely rare occurrence, if it builds the bridge, which is regularly described by opponents and even at times by supporters as “monstrous.”

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