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|Length:||963 km (598 mi)|
|North end:||Danish border|
|South end:||Austrian border|
|States:||Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria|
Bundesautobahn 7 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 7, short form Autobahn 7, abbreviated as BAB 7 or A 7) is the longest German Autobahn and the longest national motorway in Europe at 963 km (598 mi). It bisects the country almost evenly between east and west. In the north, it starts at the border with Denmark as an extension of the Danish part of E45. In the south, the autobahn ends at the Austrian border. This final gap was closed in September 2009.
In the northern Bundesland of Schleswig-Holstein the A 7 follows the Oxen Way, a medieval trade route, from Scandinavia to Hamburg. There, it passes underneath the Elbe river in four parallel tunnels.
Where it passes the Lüneburg Heath, the A 7's north and southbound carriageways are separated by an unusually wide median/centre strip.
The central section
Near Hannoversch Münden, the A 7 crosses the river Werra on the Werratalbrücke, notable for its speed traps on the long northbound slope. The autobahn crosses the river close to the ICE high-speed rail line from Hannover to Würzburg. After crossing the Werra, there are ascents and descents in a hilly landscape known to motorists as Kasseler Berge, before reaching the city of Kassel. This was a deliberate part of the design, as the early autobahn planners of the 1920s and 1930s aimed to offer motorists "appealing scenery". As far as traffic is concerned not only are there currently numerous roadworks to meet expanding traffic demands, but this section of autobahn is one of the most used: it is one of only two autobahns connecting North and South Germany, and is also part of only a handful of routes connecting areas like Frankfurt am Main with the former East Germany and Berlin. As a result, this stretch of autobahn is one of the most congested.
Construction of the southern part of the motorway was delayed by disagreements between the Bundesländer of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg over the route. Although an agreement was reached in 1969, lack of funding delayed the start of construction until the 1980s. Once started, construction proceeded unusually fast, although the challenging terrain of Frankenhöhe and Swabian Alb required the construction of two tunnels and multiple bridges.
On 1 September 2009, the last 15 km of the autobahn, between Nesselwang on the Austrian border and the border tunnel near Füssen, were opened for traffic.
Through the Rhön Mountains and Spessart, where the autobahn was known as Strecke 46 (Route 46), some bridges were built as early as 1937, but construction was halted in October 1939 by World War II. In 1954, the Strecke 46 route was abandoned and the final stretch of the A 7 in this area was later built on a slightly different route and finally completed in 1968. The remains of Strecke 46 have been classified as a listed building in 2003 by the government of Bavaria.
- "Strecke 46 Flyer (German)" (pdf). Arbeitsgemeinschaft Autobahngeschichte eV. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
- Pander, Jürgen. "A7: Deutschlands Durchschnitt". Spiegel Online (in German). Retrieved 28 August 2014.
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