Federal highway 555

Article

August 19, 2022

The Bundesautobahn 555 (abbreviation: BAB 555) – short form: Autobahn 555 (abbreviation: A 555) – is the oldest German autobahn. Since its inauguration in 1932, it has connected the cities of Cologne and Bonn, which is why it is also called the Cologne-Bonn Autobahn.

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The construction of Germany's oldest autobahn began in October 1928, and it was inaugurated by the mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, on August 6, 1932. That is why Adenauer, rather than Adolf Hitler, had the first autobahn built, as later Nazi propaganda reported. Formally, it was considered a "motor vehicle road" and was called "Landstrasse 185" as the southern extension of Bonner Strasse in Cologne. A "Police Ordinance on the Use and Extension of the Motor Vehicle Route Cologne-Bonn" of August 2, 1932, which came into force specifically for this purpose, stipulated that the originally four-lane, non-intersecting, 12-metre-wide and 18.5-kilometer-long road was only open to traffic Motor vehicles should be reserved. It also stipulated that turning, stopping and parking were prohibited on this street. The project was initiated by Adenauer, who was looking for a follow-up project to create jobs for the Cologne area after completing the work on the Cologne green belt. The provincial administration of the Rhine province in Düsseldorf under the governor Johannes Horion from Sinnersdorf near Cologne was responsible. When the project was advertised, it was expressly pointed out that excavators and other large equipment were not permitted. A total of 5,540 emergency workers were placed by the local employment offices for this emergency work. There were also grants from the Reich government in Berlin. It is the first German Autobahn to be opened under this name, while the intersection-free road with separate lanes and two lanes in each direction in Berlin's Grunewald, which had been planned twenty years earlier and opened about eleven years earlier, was called the Automobile Traffic and Exercise Road (AVUS). In 1932, the road was considered the busiest road in the German Reich with a daily traffic volume of around 3,000 vehicles. The construction costs were around 8.6 million Reichsmarks and as a job creation measure in the "voluntary labor service" from autumn 1931 it helped many who had been unemployed to find work and bread Opening downgraded to a country road by the National Socialists in power in the meantime. During this time it was part of the route of Reichsstraße 9. It was not declared a federal motorway again until April 1, 1958. The downgrading had propagandistic reasons. The National Socialists claimed that autobahns were "unique in the world" and that "a man's will had become concrete". However, Hombach and Telgenbüscher point out that since 1924 the first purely motorized road has connected Milan with the northern Italian lakes. Both also write with regard to the Reichsautobahn in general and the Reichsautobahn Cologne-Bonn in particular: "In order to be able to sell the expressways as their own idea, the National Socialists quickly downgraded the 18-kilometer stretch between Bonn and Cologne to a country road." Until it was expanded to three lanes in each direction between 1964 and 1966 (planning decision of April 6, 1964), it had no structural separation of the carriageways (with the exception described below). The two lanes were separated only by a wide central strip highlighted in colour. There is a large roundabout at the beginning and end. The road was designed for speeds of up to 120 km/h, which at the time was only reached by very few motor vehicles. For the inauguration by Konrad Adenauer on August 6, 1932, the ADAC had a Ste