|Length:||778 km (483 mi)|
|Northwest end:||Netherlands near Wesel|
|Southeast end:||Austrian border near Passau|
|States:||North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg|
Bundesautobahn 3 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 3, short form Autobahn 3, abbreviated as BAB 3 or A 3) is an autobahn in Germany that links the border with the Netherlands near Wesel in the northwest to then go to the A2/A516 in Oberhausen an ultimately to the south at the Austrian border near Passau, where it continues in Austria as the A8.
Major cities along its total length of 778 km (483 mi) include Oberhausen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Leverkusen, Cologne, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Nuremberg and Regensburg. The A 3 is a major connection between the Rhine-Ruhr area and southern Germany, resulting in heavy traffic. Consequently, large parts have three lanes (plus a hard shoulder) in each direction, including a 300 km (187.5 mi) section between Oberhausen and Aschaffenburg.
The first plans for the segment between Cologne and Düsseldorf date to 1925, and a bypass segment 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) long at Opladen was built beginning in 1931 and opened on 27 September 1933. The remainder of the highway between Oberhausen and Wiesbaden via Cologne was constructed in sections as part of the Reichsautobahn network, until 1940. The first of these, the 25 kilometres (16 mi) segment between Cologne-Mülheim and Hilden, opened on 21 May 1936. The 41.5 kilometres (25.8 mi) stretch between Limburg and Dierdorf opened on 15 June 1940, and that between Erlangen and Nuremberg was completed in 1941, although in one direction only over part of the segment. However, work on the stretch south of Wiesbaden, including the bridge over the Main at Eddersheim, was suspended in 1943. The northern segment to the border with the Netherlands, the so-called "Holland Line", was begun in 1939 and suspended in 1942; work resumed on this segment in 1958 and it opened in sections between 1961 and 1965. Work also began in 1939 on a segment between Regensburg and Wörth an der Donau, which was to have included a bridge over the Danube at Regensburg and a bypass north of Deggendorf, but work was suspended in or before 1942, and this segment (passing south of Deggendorf instead of north) was only completed in the 1960s. The parts in Eastern Bavaria were built significantly later, with the last gaps being closed in 1984.
The A 3 runs parallel to the Bundesstraße 8, which it thus replaced as a main highway. Both follow the medieval trade route Via Publica that was first mentioned in a document from 839.
The A3 is four-laning for the first 65 kilometers (41 mi) up from the Dutch border. There are six lanes, three lanes in each direction, between interchange Kreuz Oberhausen and Köln-Mülheim. On a short part inside of Kreuz Kaiserberg the A3 has two lanes. The Autobahn is equipped with eight lanes on the Cologne Beltway between Köln-Mülheim and autobahn triangle Dreieck Köln-Heumar.
The course until Waldaschaff near Aschaffenburg has six lanes. The A3 is seven-laning between Mönchhof-Dreieck and Wiesbadener Kreuz (four lanes in the direction of Cologne, three to Würzburg) and eight-laning between Frankfurter Kreuz and Offenbacher Kreuz.
The A3 has only four lanes from Aschaffenburg-Ost to the junction with the A 73 Kreuz Fürth/Erlangen in 2009. The Spessart-slope near Waldaschaff and some slope areas near Würzburg have additional lanes. There are plans to expand this area of the A3 up to six lanes in the next few years. The construction between Hösbach and Bessenbach/Waldaschaff was finished in 2011, and the new building of the Haseltalbrücke was terminated in 2012. The section in the area of Würzburg -- from the border between Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria near Helmstadt to Würzburg-Heidingsfeld and from Würzburg to Rottendorf -- was expanded until 2012. The next kilometers between Rottendorf and interchange Kreuz Biebelried wasin late 2012. The expansion of the last section near Würzburg, between Würzburg-Heidingsfeld and Würzburg/Rottendorf started in 2013.
There are six lanes between Kreuz Fürth/Erlangen and Kreuz Nürnberg while the remaining section towards the Austrian border only has two lanes in each direction.
Between Cologne and Frankfurt an ICE high-speed railway line (300 km/h) closely follows the A 3's route.
Two sections in the Frankfurt area are equipped with a special kind of facility to allow a temporary release of the emergency lanes during the rush hour. The section between Hanau and Offenbacher Kreuz and also the section between Kelsterbach and Mönchhof-Dreieck have this facility, so that a further lane for each direction can be opened. These sections are monitored by cameras, so that the additional lane can be closed in critical situations, for example in case of a vehicle breakdown.
Some parts of the A3 are among the most busy roads in Germany. According to a survey from 2010, three sections are in the Top 10 of roads with major average traffic each day. Only the Berlin city autobahn A100 had more traffic in 2010.
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