Motorway ring along the current day Hungária boulevard
The idea that Hungária Boulevard should be developed into an expressway cropped up first in 1948 but then slipped into oblivion for a while as people were not allowed to own private cars in the 1950s, therefore motorised traffic did not intensify in this period.
The development of a motorway network began in the 1960s; the routes were planned to be laid out in a radial pattern. Under the national long-term road development framework plan established in 1971, the motorways starting from the capital city were to be connected by Hungária Boulevard which was to be developed into a multi-level ring motorway.
Similar multi-level roads were constructed at the time in a number of major cities all over the world to accommodate growing motorised traffic, including for instance, the Tangenziale Est in Rome or the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco. Many of these have already been removed as they completely cut off parts of the towns in which they were built.
The idea was to construct an elevated motorway with three lanes in each direction, running over a bridge crossing the River Danube from Váci Road to the M1 motorway, with an express tram line underneath. The concept was to construct a ring road on pillars, without hard shoulders, with a 90 km/h speed limit.
The planned structure was to be built in several phases, starting with the reconstruction of the bottleneck junctions along Hungária Boulevard. The grand scale project was to be completed by 1990.
The concept was abandoned in 1977, when it was realised that the Hungária Boulevard had already become an inner city boulevard and was no longer suitable for connecting motorways. The transport development plan of 1978 provided for establishing the M0 ring road, running at a distance from the boundaries of the capital city. Hungária Boulevard was a simple urban arterial road in the plan, but the express tram was constructed between 1984 and 2019, after a delay of a few decades.
“Two times two and two times three traffic lanes will be constructed, in each direction, separated by a 17m wide green strip, with a separate motorway over it. The ground level arterial road will be constructed in the initial phase of the project.”
The daily Esti Hírlap, 8 January 1971
(Above) The ring of the elevated motorway along Hungária Boulevard would have encircled Pest like a wall and would have connected the radially distributed motorways leading to the metropolis.
(1) The infamous A55 motorway severing Marseille from the sea. Much of the double-level road was removed in the early 2010s as part of one of Europe’s largest urban rehabilitation projects.
(2) According to a plan developed in 1972, the Pest side and Buda side of the ring road would have been connected by a double-decker bridge on the site of the current day Rákóczi bridge. The motorway would have continued along the route of Hamzsabégi Road. Due to the decades-long delay, a park was established here and by the 1990s it was no longer intended to be replaced by a motorway, therefore the traffic from Rákóczi Bridge was redirected to Szerémi road instead.
(3) Hungária Boulevard still had a suburban look in the early 1960s, with hardly any traffic at all. The photo from 1958 show the intersection of Róbert Károly Boulevard and Váci Road.
(4) The Kacsóh Pongrác hub of the M3 motorway illustrates what the envisaged ring road would have looked like.
(5) The prospective ring road would have skirted the town in a broad semi-circle from Flórián Square to the junction where the Ostapenko sculpture once stood (figure taken from the publication of the Transport Directorate General of the Budapest Council EC, 1971)