Silvretta Hochalpenstraße, Vorarlberg:
Panorama Road in the Austrian Alps
The Silvretta Hochalpenstraße is a panorama road in the very west of Austria, in the province of Vorarlberg. It is situated in the Montafon region, to be precise, which can be found in the south of the province. The Silvretta Hochalpenstraße connects the Bielerhöhle and runs through the Silvretta mountain range to the Tyrolean Paznaun valley, also called Trisanna Valley after the river that runs through it. The road is a private property and is still owned by the company that built it, the Illwerke from Vorarlberg. The Silvretta Hochalpenstraße is considered to be among Austria′s most beautiful panorama roads and is used by more than 400,000 people every year. It is 25.4 kilometres long.
The construction of the Silvretta Hochalpenstraße is an interesting story: In a way, the road is a by-product of the construction of the Silvretta power plant and reservoir. The construction started with the extension of existing paths in 1925. After this extension was competed in 1930, few things happened. Only after the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-Germany, the construction of a proper road was picked up again. Many slave labourers and prisoners of war were forced to contribute to the construction of the road.
Opening of the Silvretta Panorama Road
The final link of the Silvretta Hochalpenstraße between Partenen and Galtür was an even more unusual side-effect: For the construction of power plant and supplies, an enormous caterpillar had been taken up to the Silvretta. It had been taken there by dismantling it and transporting it in small pieces to the site where it was then used - there, it had to be re-assembled again first. This procedure could have been repeated to get the thing back to the valley. Instead, the owners decided to send it straight through the forest; the machine was big enough to "make" its own road. This way, the final link between Galtür and Partenen was made between 1951 and 1954. The road was cleared and opened in 1954; a second lane was added until 1961.
The Silvretta Hochalpenstraße is opened only during the summer months, a toll has to be paid for every vehicle using it. The road is enhanced by several inns and look-out points on the reservoir and the Alpine landscape in its surroundings. Due to its appeal, the Silvretta Hochalpenstraße is often used by old-timer cars, once a year also for a race. Mountain bikers and less crazy cyclists like it, they, too, hold races on the Silvretta Hochalpenstraße once in a while. There is even a bus link between Landeck and Bludenz that goes via the Silvretta Hochalpenstraße during the main season in summer. The road is closed between November and May.
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