Beaver destroys historic bridge in Bavaria

KUTZENHAUSEN-BUCH/ AUGSBURG- The Rothbrücke, located in the district of Augsburg in the community of Kutzenhausen has been in the news recently because of a rather interesting story that is making residents and Bavarians scratch their heads as to how this could happen. The 40-50 foot long beam bridge with concrete decking that spans a small creek has come under attack from an unlikely source, and it has caused the mayor to pursue measures to demolish and replace the bridge with haste. Beavers have been busy taking the bridge apart, piece by piece, where they have undermined the bridge’s abutments and wingwalls by digging several holes behind it, as well as along the shoreline surrounding it. The abutment supports the decking of the bridge, whereas the wingwalls allows water to flow freely under the bridge and keep the dirt back. The end result of the beaver’s work has been the area having several holes and tunnels at and behind the abutments, making it look like Swiss cheese, according to reports by the newspaper, Augsburger Allgemeine. The problem was first discovered in 2010, resulting in the weight limit of 3.5 tones being imposed on the bridge. But it was not enough for the beavers to widen their tunnel network and bring the bridge to a point of collapse. According to the mayor, Rupert Kugelbrey, the abutments are so undermined that the bridge could collapse at any moment.  While the bridge has been closed off to all traffic including pedestrians since the end of February of this year, plans are now in the making to remove the bridge at the earliest possible convenience for safety reasons. Whether there will be a replacement for the 40+ year old bridge to follow remains open. But it has provided locals and pontists with some humor, as the beaver is being talked about among the social network community. And it is no wonder, for beavers have a potential to bring down trees and dam up streams, causing flooding. That they have the potential to destroy bridges by undermining important parts is something that is going to have engineers look at other ways to keep wild animals from destroying other bridges, regardless of age and materials used.  For this beaver, it will have to find other bridges to undermine, once the Rothbrücke is removed, but not before receiving the Chronicles’ Author’s Choice Awards in the process, which will be presented next year.

Respect. :-)

More on the bridge can be found here. A photo of the bridge and the damage done by the beaver can be found here.

 

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New Logo/ New Products For Sale

Fehmarn Bridge in Germany. Used as the new logo for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Photo taken in September 2014

Looking for the right gift for Christmas, or a calendar with bridges and scenery because you have not found one in stores yet? You are just in luck! :-)

In time for the holiday season, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column the Flensburg Files have new items available to order and give to your friend or loved one. Click here in the Flensburg Bridgehunter Online Shop, and you will have an opportunity to buy a new 2015 calendar, mugs and coffee cups with their respective logos on there, Christmas ornaments and new at the shop, photos of bridges taken by the author with some interesting facts about them. The platform for the shop, Cafe Press, has some deals regarding shipping and other opportunities. Check out the shop by clicking here.

Proceeds will go to various bridge projects in the works. Among them include two books on bridges in Iowa, one in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, as well as a couple bridge preservation projects that are going on at the present time.  If there is an item or photo that you would like to order but is not at the online shop, please let the author know and there are ways to get it to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions or want more information on the bridge projects, please him know as well.

The merchandise sold through Cafe Press feature a new logo. The old logo, depicting the Rendsburg High Bridge in Germany, will be phased out in favor of one featuring another German bridge. The Fehmarnsundbrücke (EN: Fehmarn Bridge) was built in 1963 and is the first bridge in the world to feature a basket-handle tied arch span. Connecting Fehmarn Island and Scandanavia with the rest of Germany and Europe via Migratory Bird Route, the future of the steel lady is in limbo for reasons to be mentioned in an article to be posted later in the fall.  In support of the bridge, it is featured in the new logo that follows a pattern similar to the one featured in the Flensburg Files, but only with acronyms. You will see more of the new logo when articles are being presented in the near future, but not before giving the old iron lady of Rendsburg its proper send-off, as will be seen in the next article.

Reminder: The Chronicles is still taking on articles and information on the best example of a restored historic bridge as well as tour guides on regions with historically significant bridges. They will be nominated for this year’s Ammann Awards. More information can be found here.

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Dunlap’s Creek Bridge to be Rehabilitated

Side view. Photo courtesy of the HABS HAER Record

At first, the bridge seems to be a typical steel arch bridge in a small Pennsylvania community of Brownsville, located approximately 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, along the Monogahela River. However, instead of tearing down the structure, as it has been described in a textbook fashion by PennDOT, this bridge is due to be rehabilitated.

So what’s so special about Dunlap’s Creek Bridge, an 80-foot long bridge that reminds the author of the Blackfriar’s Road Bridge in London?

The bridge is definitely older than Blackfriar’s Road Bridge. It was built in 1869 and still serves traffic over the River Thames.

This bridge was built much earlier- 1839, to be exact!

Dunlap was the product of Captain Richard Delafield, the person who designed the bridge. The bridge consists of a Howe Lattice deck arch bridge, made of cast iron that was manufactured by Herbertson Foundry in town. Keys and Searight were the contractors for the bridge. The bridge was built 60 years after the first cast iron bridge in the world was constructed at Coalbrookdale, England, the structure that is still standing today. Yet Dunlap set the standard for the following developments:

1. The bridge set the standard for the introduction of the Howe Truss, designed and patented by William Howe in 1840, one year later. It is possible that Howe either influenced Delafield into using this design or used this bridge as a reference for his design.

2. The bridge was used as references for other arch bridges of this fashion, for hundreds of bridges of this type were used for crossings, big and small, in the US and Europe, built between the 1850s and 1900, a fraction of which are still standing today.

HABS HAER

The bridge is the first one to be built in the USA, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978 and is one of 76 bridges honored internationally for its unique design and historic significance. Now the 1839 bridge, which took three years to build and is the fourth crossing at this site, is scheduled to be rehabilitated. Plans are in the making to strengthen the arches, replace the roadway, and there is a possibility that the encasement installed in the 1920s will be removed, exposing the covered half of the cast iron arch. No details of how the bridge will exactly be restored, but PennDOT is looking at the restoration cost of up to $3.7 million, according to a report from the Post Gazette in Pittsburgh. The plan is to make it more attractive for tourists once the project is completed.

Builder’s plaque. Photo taken by James Baughn

A link with all the information about the bridge and its history can be found here. The Chronicles will keep you updated on the project as it comes.

 

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The Bike Challenge

The author and Galloping Gertie on the road. Shot of the Flutmulde Bridge at Sachsenburg, Thuringia. Photo taken in August 2014

Co-produced with sister column:

In the past few weeks, three out of four of us have been nominated for the Ice-Bucket Challenge, whereby of the 75%, four out of five of us have actually done this challenge, either by donating $100 or dumping the bucket of ice water on our heads and donating an amount of our choice to the cause, which is fighting ALS. This disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, disables the nerves and spinal area in the body, affecting the person’s motor skills.

The disease was named after the famous New York Yankees baseball star, who retired 75 years ago after being diagnosed with the disease and died less than two years later. He was the player famous for his comment: “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”

The idea of the bucket challenge came from Bill Gates and has received mixed reviews from those willing to present themselves doing this rather absurd act on social network and those who think society has become dumber by doing this. Personally, it would not be my cup of tea, as there are other crippling diseases that are just as deadly as ALS. This includes Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative muscular disease that kills a person just as tortuously as this one. This is speaking from the experience after losing a close relative and two friends to this disease. And even if there was a bucket challenge for MS, I would go for the $100 donation instead of suffering from hypothermia thanks to a large bucket of ice cold water. Sorry people.

But the ice bucket challenge presented a brilliant idea for another fundraiser- the bike challenge. With the increase in popularity of bikes and the proliferation of bike trails both in the US and in Europe, why not use the bicycle as the challenge for raising funds?

The idea is simple.

One can challenge someone to bike a certain amount of kilometers and donate an amount of choice. Yet if he/she refuses, then a fixed amount would have to be donated, just like in the ice bucket challenge. The person would have to provide photos and tracking information to prove that the kms were biked and pass the challenge to others who are either avid bike fans or are willing to take up the challenge.

For example:  If I was challenged to bike 50 km in one day, I would pick and choose a route that is bike friendly, like the bike trail along the Unstrut River in Thuringia between Erfurt and Artern, for example. Then I would provide a tracker and some photos, and after doing so, would challenge my next three compatriots to do the same. The amount donated can be based on whether I fulfill the challenge (which would be a fixed amount in my favor) or if  I pass and have to donate based on what was fixed by the organizer, as Bill Gates did with his ALS Challenge.  By the way, I did take the challenge a couple weeks ago, as you can see in the pics here.

A railroad bridge converted to a bike trail crossing at Artern.

Such a bike challenge is useful for not only fundraising drives to combat diseases, like MS or cancer. Yet it can be useful for projects to restore historic places, like bridges, churches and houses, and other causes. For grassroots groups seeking fund-raising posibilities, this challenge is healthy, affordable and provides a challenge to those who would take advantage of the great outdoors and provide a sense of personal achievement, instead of making a total fool out of him/herself by dumping a bucket of ice water over the head, risking a heart attack, hypothermia and other health issues. Furthermore, as you can see in my challenge, you can discover many new sights based on your interest (and the interest of others)

So if you are one of those groups seeking fund-raising possibilities and would like to challenge people, this is one worth considering. It runs parallel to the ice-bucket challenge, but it is a lot more interesting, fun, healthier and even safer than the other challenge. And even if you decide for another challenge- like a friend of mine from Minnesota did and thought of a creative way to challenge others to buy extra products to be donated to a local food shelter- it is much more beneficial than to be soaked in ice cold water, especially now, as my instincts are telling me that winter is coming much sooner than expected. It is already cold and fall-like, with snow already falling in Rapid City, South Dakota- not typical of September weather and something where the ice bucket challenge is not a good idea to begin with. ;-)

Author’s note: The Bridges of Unstruttal will be featured later in the fall/ winter, as the author has yet to complete the second half of the leg from Artern to Naumburg. In the meantime, enjoy the preview of what is yet to come.

 

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German Heritage Day at the Bridges

Carl-Alexander-Brücke in Dornburg, one of many bridges featured in this year’s Tag des offenen Denkmals. Photo taken in August

Tag des offenen Denkmals to take place on 14 September.

Every year in September, Germany hosts the “Tag des offenen Denkmals,” an all-day event taking place on a Sunday, where millions of visitors spend the day touring churches, museums, places of historic and natural interest and even city parks, whose history dates back hundreds of years. The visitors can also enjoy the historic bridges while they are at it. While the number of historic bridges at this open house is limited, tourists can take in a guided tour of the structures, learning about their history and in one case, how the bridges function as caterer of all forms of traffic that carries people and goods from point A to point B. In the case of one historic bridge that has been abandoned for many years, the heritage days can serve as a platform for a campaign to restore and reuse it for other purposes.

As many as a dozen of Germany’s bridges are listed as having tour guides and other events taking place this Sunday. The Chronicles has a list of a few of them people can expect to see during this 18th annual event. For instance:

Liesenbrücke in Berlin: This two-span railroad bridge passes over the roundabout, where four streets and three cemetaries meet in the Berlin suburb of Gesundbrunnen. Built in the 19th century and surviving World War II and the Cold War, the truss design of this bridge is similar to the Railroad Bridge spanning the Danube at Linz, Austria- a curved Whipple with riveted connections. Once serving a rail line connecting Berlin and Stettin in Poland and later, light rail (German: S-Bahn), the bridge has been abandoned since 1990, but preservationists and those associated with the bridge are fighting to see the bridge reused for bike traffic. A presentation on the bridge will take place at 4:00pm on the Tag des offenen Denkmals with some information available on how to support the efforts in saving the structure. More information online by clicking here.

Drususbrücke at Bingen (Rhein): Touted as the oldest stone arch bridge remaining along the Rhine corridor between Frankfurt and Cologne, this 11th century stone arch bridge is located over the Nahe just before its confluence with the Rhine River. It was named after Drusus, the Roman who led his troops to the region at the time of Roman expansion and may have been the person engineering the first crossing near Bingen. The stone arch bridge has survived several wars, having been restored three times- the last time in 1952. One can see the bridge during the Tag des offenen Denkmals between 10am and 4pm, obtaining information about the bridge’s history on site. Yet do not forget to stay in the evening for some night photos. More information here.

Tauberrettersheim: Located northwest of Rothenburg ob der Tauber along the Tauber River in Bavaria, the stone arch bridge was the work of Balthasar Naumann, built in 1733 and featuring five arches. The bridge was rebuilt in 1947 and still serves its function like it did in the past- the gateway to the town famous for its Barocke architecture and arts and crafts. The bridge is part of the festival where several stands featuring locally handmade goods on this day. More information can be found here.

Autobahnmeisterei and Bridge at Erkner: Located along the Berliner Ring (Motorway Rte. 10) in Erkner, southeast of Berlin, the Meisterei features a mechanic shop for automobiles, an administration office responsible for the upkeep of the motorway and a silo with a gallery of photos, artefacts and other information pertaining to the Autobahn system in Berlin and Germany. Also featured is the remains of the deck girder bridge that had once carried Motorway Rte. 10 and was built in 1942, the same time as the Meisterei. Upon its replacement in 1996, a section was placed on the lawn of the Meisterei as a monument, and together with the building complex itself, has been restored for the public to see. More information on the open house and its history can be found here.

Carl-Alexander-Bridge in Dornburg: Spanning the Saale River near Dornburg, 10 kilometers north of Jena in eastern Thuringia, the three-span riveted Parker through truss bridge was built in 1892 to replace a 14th century covered bridge destroyed in the flooding. Since 2000, the bridge has been reduced to just bike and pedestrian traffic, but is structurally in dire straits. Since 2006, the preservation organization has been raising funds to refit the bridge to make it safer and more family friendly. The festivities on the Tag des offenen Denkmals will rake in more visitors and funding possibilities in hopes that enough money is raised in order to start with the rehabilitation work next year. More on the events on this day, which features breakfast and jazz music, a presentation and tour of the bridge and a tour of the Dornburg castle can be found here.  As Jena will be featured in the Chronicles’ bridge tour, more on this bridge will come soon.

Rendsburg High Bridge: Spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal, the 1913 bridge complex features a north loop approach span and the main span- a cantilever Warren through truss rail span carrying rail service between Flensburg and Hamburg and underneath, a transporter span carrying vehicles and people across the canal. The masterpiece of Friedrich Voss has been considered a national landmark since 1988 and a guided tour will be provided to talk more about the bridge. Two tours will take place in the afternoon at the bridge terasse on the Rendsburg side of the crossing. More information available here.

Oschütztal Viaduct in Weida: Built in 1884, the Town lattice deck truss viaduct has a length of 185 meters and is 28 meters high above the ground. The landmark of Weida, which can be seen from the east entrance of the city as well as from the train station 1 km to the west, was the work of Claus Köpcke and Hans Manfred Krüger, who later built the Blue Wonder Bridge in Dresden. The bridge served rail traffic in eastern and southern Thuringia, connecting Weida with Gera in the north, Saalfeld in the southwest and Plauen to the southeast. It was closed to traffic in 1984 and has been sitting unused ever since. The organization is looking at renovating the bridge for reuse either as a tourist railroad attraction or for bike and pedestrian use. In connection with its 130th birthday, a guided tour and other festivities are being planned for that day. More details here. The Chronicles will feature more information on the plans for this bridge when they come.

If you want more information on other places you can see while travelling through Germany this weekend, please check out the link, where all the places of interest are having their open houses. There, you will find all the information you need on the events taking place and when. The link is right here.

This year’s event has more bridges than in year’s past, and this in its 18th year. This leads to the question of other bridges that should have open houses on this day so that tourists can visit them. If you know of one or more particular bridges that should be considered for future Tag des offenen Denkmals, place your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook page and your reasons why.

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Now taking articles and candidates for Bridge Tours and Best Example of Historic Bridge Preservation

Schonemann Park Bridge south of Luverne, MN. The state’s only Waddell pony truss bridge that has been a centerpiece of the park since 1990. Photo taken in August 2014

While the 2014 Othmar H. Ammann Awards are only a couple months away, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is already taking entries for two categories: The City Tour Award and Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. The reasons are twofold:

1. 2014 has been a year of record number of historic bridges being restored in the United States, both in terms of covered bridges and bridges made of concrete and metal that are more than 50 years old- a reversal of the trend from 2013, where several key historic bridges were lost to demolition or severely damaged by overweight trucks and arson.

While some of the examples posted in the last half year can be seen on the Chronicles’ facebook and twitter pages, the Chronicles would like to look at how the bridges were restored and the efforts that were undertaken by the public to have their historic symbol of their communities restored. A page on Best Preservation Examples is already on the Chronicles’ page with an opportunity for you to contribute.

 

2. The City Tour category was introduced last year, being spun out from the Best Kept Secret Award and features cities and regions with a cluster of historic bridges that exist, ranging from villages, such as Bertram, Iowa, to parks like the Historic Bridge Park in Michigan, to cities, like Lubeck and Halle in Germany. This category was well received to a point where it will be introduced again this year, but will go even further. The Chronicles is featuring a page on Bridge Tours and Lost Bridges, where you have an opportunity to look at the bridges you can expect to see when visiting the regions. A handful of cities and regions have already been posted (you can click here), and we would like to expand it based on your contributions.

 

Here is your opportunity to contribute as a guest writer or interviewee for both categories.  If you either:

  1. Have a historic bridge that has recently been restored or is currently undergoing a rehabilitation process  or
  2. Know of a city, county/district or region that has more than four bridges that are more than 60 years of age and have some historical significance or
  3. Know of a region that was once populated with historic bridges but has now dwindled to one or two left,

Then provide a summary of 1-3 pages with information on the bridges or restoration project, as well as some photos of the bridges, to be sent to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.

It will then be showcased on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles for reader to look at and perhaps use either as a reference for their own bridge restoration projects or an incentive to visit these regions. The examples will automatically be nominated for this year’s Ammann Awards, where the people will vote on in December and the winners will be announced in January.

Entries for this year’s Ammann Awards are due 30 November. Those coming in after that date will automatically be nominated for the 2015 Ammann Awards.  The Chronicles will accept all entries in the United States, Canada, Europe and other regions for the Awards will be divided up into American and International categories.

Please ensure that each photo has a source so that it can be cited accordingly, either on the Chronicles page, the Chronicles’ flickr page or both.  You may be contacted for an interview by the Chronicles with regards to the restoration project or additional information about the submitted bridges in the region. Please ensure that the contact information is made available so that the interview can be conducted as soon as possible.  Announcements on the voting process will be made at the close of the submissions on 30 November.  Any questions or clarifications needed can be submitted to the Chronicles.

 

By presenting examples of restored historic bridges as well as regions with a high number of historic bridges, people will be able to take the opportunity to have a look at the various success stories of preserved historic bridges while at the same marvel at the historic bridges that are characteristic of the regions, thus encouraging more people to visit and learn more about historic bridges. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of historic bridges and their contribution to the history of transportation, as well as ways to preserve them for generations to come.  The goal is to preserve the past in the present for people in the future to see and learn about them.

 

Important Announcement: Entries for the other categories- Best Bridge Photo, Bridge of the Year, Mystery Bridge, Lifetime Achievement, Best Kept Secret (individual bridge), and the Author’s Choice Awards will be taken starting October 1st. More information will follow, but those interested in nominating their bridge(s) may want to have them prepared for submission to the Chronicles beforehand.

 

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2014 Historic Bridge Weekend in Michigan

Mackinac Bridge at night. One of the key bridges on the places to visit list for this year’s HB Weekend. Photo taken by Nathan Holth of HistoricBridges.org

Three-day Event to take place September 5-7, 2014.

Labor Day weekend usually marks the end of summer and the start of the school year throughout the US, unless you are living in some states that have already started school. Yet if you or your child is a bridge fan, like Nathan Holth, then you could consider this year’s Historic Bridge Weekend as the event to close out this summer vacation.

This year’s event, hosted by the author and columnist of HistoricBridges.org, will take place in Michigan, focusing on the creme dela creme of historic bridges. The three-day weekend will start with a tour of Historic Bridge Park on the evening of September 5th, beginning at 5:00pm. Located near Battle Creek, this park features six historic bridges that were brought in from places in southern Michigan, restored and erected as trails throughout the park. The complex received the Chronicles’ Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret in 2011.

After touring southern Michigan and parts of northern Indiana on Saturday (including a Saturday night photo opportunity of the bridges in Grand Rapids), Sunday’s tour will feature a visit to the Big Mac. Built in 1957 under the direction of David Steinman, the five-mile long bridge, with the main span of 3,800 feet, still remains the longest single bridge in the western hemisphere. Also included in the Sunday tour are the bridges in the Sault Sainte Marie area, which will mark the first time that the HB Weekend will include some bridges outside the US. Sault Ste. Marie is located at the US-Canadian Border and features over a half dozen key structures straddling the St. Mary’s River and the international border, including the International Bridge, built by Steinman and Associates in 1962.

If you have any questions or are interested in participating in this rather informal event that will bring together pontists and bridge enthusiasts from all over the country, please contact Nathan Holth using the contact details enclosed here.    Highlights of the Historic Bridge Weekend will be provided in the Chronicles in case if it is impossible to make the event but would like to know which bridges to see while visiting Michigan. The author of the Chronicles already has a few bridges to visit on his agenda for his visit to the region in the future.

Author’s Note: A book on the Mackinac Bridge will be featured in the Chronicles’ Book of the Month soon.

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Portland Waterworks Bridge for Sale: Any Takers?

Portland Waterworks Bridge before it was dismantled in 2010. Photo taken in 2009 by Michael Goff

 

PORTLAND, OREGON-  Mail order truss  bridge- truss bridges with welded connections that are assembled at the company but taken to its final destination for installment as a pedestrian crossing- seems to be the norm nowadays. While they are easy to build and cost effective, they lack the aesthetic taste that should be characteristic for its surroundings.

Yet it does not mean you need to scrap the plan altogether. Used truss bridges- namely historic bridges that are more than 60 years old- can fit the mold, and they usually tie in together with its surroundings because of their design and appearance. The Portland Waterworks Bridge spanning the Sandy River at Dodge Park in Clackamas County, Oregon is one of those unique bridges that once fit this mold.

Built in 1893, the bridge was a product of the Bullen Bridge Company of Pueblo, Colorado and was erected under the direction of Charles Loweth. It was deemed as the oldest historic bridge that served its original function in the state of Oregon, as it carried the Bull Water Pipeline Conduits 2 and 4, two of the important conduits that provide water to a quarter of the state’s population.  For over 80 years, this Pennsylvania petit through truss bridge with Howe portal bracing (with ornamental features) and pinned connections ran parallel to the Lusted Road Bridge, another Pennsylvania Petit through truss bridge that carries vehicular traffic.

Since 2010 the Portland Waterworks has been in storage waiting for reuse somewhere else as a pedestrian bridge. After the two conduits were laid underground, running underneath the Sandy River, the bridge was rendered obsolete and was later dismantled, leaving the Lusted Road Bridge as the only historic bridge left to be seen as part of the Dodge Park complex.

Bridge parts waiting to be reassembled at a new home. Photo taken by Michael Goff in December 2010

The Portland Waterworks Bureau (PWB) and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) are working together to give the bridge away to a known party that is willing to use it for recreational use. As the bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge must not be destroyed or used for anything other than as a pedestrian crossing, even if the length of the bridge is 300 feet, very unusual for a Pennsylvania truss bridge built small enough to be used as a pedestrian or bike bridge. The deck width is 14 feet.  The PWB and SHPO has a handbook guide with information about the bridge, how it is assembled and its historic significance, just to name a few items. They can be found on the PWB website by clicking here.  Any party interested in the bridge will receive the structure in parts (as seen in the picture), making it easier to haul, plus some information on how to reassemble the truss bridge at its new location. Yet additional help in terms of funding for the relocation of the bridge as well as expertise from the historic bridge and preservation communities are available upon request.

If you are interested in purchasing the Portland Waterworks Bridge for reuse as a recreational bridge, please contact Kevin Larson of the Engineering Services Group. The contact information can be found on the same website by clicking here.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you up to date as to when and where the Portland Waterworks Bridge will find its new home. It is possible that it could find a new home inside Oregon- a plus for many preservationists living in the state as well as those interested in seeing it reused again. Yet as has been seen in many cases, the Waterworks Bridge may end up out of state, like in Colorado, where a party in interested in bringing in bridges for recreational use. More on that in the Chronicles as the information comes in.

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Linz Railroad Bridge Update: Aktionstag at Donaupark Urfahr on September 12

The Railway Bridge at night but in black and white. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Schneider

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark the date on your calendar: 12 September, 2014 at 6:00pm (Central European Time) at Donaupark Urfahr in Linz, Austria. The Group Initiative Save the Linz Railway Bridge (Rettet die Eisenbahnbrücke) is hosting the bridge festival Aktionstag, featuring the Austrian bands of Attwenger and Folkshilfe. There are no entry fees but you can donate to the cause. The festival brings together people with close ties to the bridge who want to see the 114-year old bridge saved and reused for pedestrian use.

This includes the political parties of the Free Democrats, the Volkspartei and Greens, who are making up the majority who are pressing the mayor of Linz, Klaus Luger, to reconsider plans to demolish the bridge. Luger, along with supporters of the party SPO (the Social Democrats), are pushing to see the bridge replaced with a modern structure, despite growing opposition from the majority of Linz’s population, preservationists, and even engineers who have expertise in preserving historic bridges, including Erhardt Kargel, whose invitation to speak with Luger was rejected, according to interview with the city magazine, Linzider (see article here for more details).  A new design is expected to be revealed in September, yet with the mayoral elections scheduled for next year, the topic of this bridge and its future will be one of the top themes of the election campaign.

For more information about this bridge festival on 12 September and/or on how to contribute to saving the bridge, click here for more details. The initiative is also on facebook, where as many as 8,250 likes have been posted. There is a potential that the 10,000 mark will be reached between now and then, and the numbers will double by year’s end.  Join in on the action in saving the Railroad Bridge by attending the concert and being actively engaged in pushing the city to support preserving the bridge.

The Chronicles interviewed Robert Ritter, who is one of the leading organizers in saving the bridge. You can click here to read the information behind the initiative to save the bridge. The Chronicles, which is throwing its support behind the bridge, will keep you posted on the latest developments as they come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINZ, AUSTRIA-

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Linz Railroad Bridge Preservation: Interview

Obique view of the bridge. Image courtesy of Thomas Nemcsek.

The next Chronicles entry takes us back to Linz in central Austria, and in particular, this bridge over the Danube. Two years ago, the Chronicles published an article about the future of this three-span hybrid Parker-Whipple through truss span that used to carry rail and vehicular traffic and features a pedestrian boardwalk. At that time, public sentiment favored replacing the bridge with a modern one, which would fit the modern landscape but leave the Styregg Bridge in the northern part of the city as the lone historic bridge left. As seen in the article here, the Office of Historic Preservation was the last barrier to be taken down before demolition could proceed, which was backed by the city government and the Austrian Railways.

Fast-forward to the present, and we see a somewhat different scenario involving the bridge. The Austrian Railways has relinquished its responsibility of the bridge to the organization Linz AG, public support for the bridge has increased to the majority, but attempts to destroy efforts to preserve the bridge including one agency changing sides and producing one of the biggest scandals in the city’s history, are still there.

The organization Rettet die Eisenbahnbrücke (EN: Save the Linz Railway Bridge) was formed and started several initiatives to convince the city to change its mind. Despite its infancy, the support for the bridge has been enormous, with almost 8,000 likes on facebook and tens of thousands of signatures that prompted the city to involve the public about the plans for the bridge. Even the Chronicles has thrown in its support for this unique bridge that has been considered a historic jewel for the city, the Danube River and central Europe.

Underneath the bridge in black and white. Photo courtesy of Arno Schröckenfux

I had an opportunity to interview Robert Ritter, one of the organizers who is spearheading efforts to get the bridge saved, asking him about the current situation of the bridge and what the group wants to do with the bridge. Despite a long battle ahead of them, he remains optimistic that the public will have a say towards what they want to do with the bridge, which is restore the structure and convert it into a bike and pedestrian crossing with an option to include streetcar service in the future. Here is the Chronicles’ Q&A with Herrn Ritter:

1. What got you started with saving the Linz Railroad Bridge?
It was initially press reports saying that the demolition of the bridge had been enacted in the municipal council. We were wondering that nobody in public seemed to take notice of this incredible act let alone stand up against it. We learned that there were numerous initiatives campaigning for the preservation of the monument, all more or less remaining unnoticed or unsuccessful. So we decided to try the same through Facebook. Some weeks before we started a Facebook campaign demanding a beach cafe at the river Danube had led to a round table involving politicians and Facebook activists to realize the project.
2. In the past three years, political support has been mounting to replace the railroad bridge with a more modern one because of claims that the bridge cannot be restored. Is the political pressure there and if so, how have you been combating it?
It’s more ignorance than pressure we are fighting against. We are detecting massive economical interests in destroying the bridge and a network of actors that are very close to corruption the way they have been pushing their concerns. However, we have strong support by most of the political opposition to the government and even by members of the governing parties (which are the social democrats and the green party).
3. The bridge is now privately owned, from what I understand. Is it right?   If so, what are your plans for the bridge?
That is correct although the “private” owner is a company that is owned by the city. The company is a result of sourcing-out services provided by the city. Our plans are to preserve the monument as a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians and – if necessary – for a tramway. A new bridge for cars can easily be built beside the railroad bridge unless it should turn out that another position for the new bridge is a better option in terms of traffic concepts.
4. How much support have you received so far?
Well, we almost have 8000 supporters on Facebook. Even 7000 were enough to make the mayor invite the Facebook activists for “Linz braucht einen Strand” to a round table. We notice that there is also very much popular demand for a preservation of the bridge by persons that are not on Facebook. And we do not detect much open opposition against our concern.
5. Is it true about the Denkmalamt removing the historic status of the bridge (as seen in one of the fb postings)?  If so, how will you go about in convincing the agency to reinstate this status?
The permission to demolish the monument (so the official term) was politically motivated and is a scandal on its own. Some history: in the 1960ies the municipal government of Linz destroyed a textile manufactory of the 17th century in face of grim protest of the public. As a result an independent advisory board for issues concerning historical monuments (Unabhängiger Denkmalbeirat) was established by law to never let anything like that happen again. Well, the advisory board argued by majority vote FOR a preservation of the railroad bridge. For the first time in the history of the advisory board the Denkmalamt ignored its recommendation. Notice that the Denkmalamt is subordinated to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture headed by a social democrat minister. Coincidence?
6. If plans for restoring the bridge are approved, what is the timeline for the project? How will the bridge be maintained?
Well, we are far away from speaking of timelines. We are preparing to utilize all democratic means to fight for a participation of the population in the decision. At the moment the city government is planning a timeline for the demolition of the bridge. The demolition has to be executed within 3 years after the permission of the Denkmalamt which means a lot of pressure for the destroyers. There are detailed offers by steel building companies to restore the bridge. It is possible and it is by far cheaper to restore AND build a new bridge than to tear down the monument and build a new one.
7. Any advice to anyone who is working on saving a historic bridge, especially one over such a large river like the Danube? Do you know of other similar bridges that are being restored that are worth mentioning?
There are more best practice examples for restoring historic bridges than can be mentioned here. Some of them are the bridges Baltoji Voke  and Kaunas (both Lithuania), Eglisau (Switzerland) and The Hef in Rotterdam. To anyone who is working on saving a bridge: fear nobody, don’t give up, involve the public! And utilize social media – they have an incredible potential for reaching lots of people within a short time.

The Railway Bridge at night but in black and white. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Schneider

If you are interested in taking part in any efforts to save the Linz Railway Bridge, go to their facebook page to like (here) and follow up on the updates and photos provided on the page. There is also a website, where you can sign the petition and subscribe to updates on the current situation with the bridge so that you have an opportunity to participate in the efforts to save the structure. You can click on the link here for more details.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest developments involving the bridge, as things are heating up between those wanting to save the bridge and those wanting to demolish and replace it. The Chronicles is also on facebook and twitter which you can subscribe to follow the updates on that and other bridges in Europe and the US.  As you can see in the interview, the battle is brewing, but in the end, the people of Linz will have the final say as to what will be done to the bridge. It is hoped that a compromise- a historic bridge as a bike and pedestrian trail and a new bridge alongside it for vehicular traffic will serve to the liking of both parties. But it will all depend on the number of votes needed to realize this project.
The author would like to thank Robert Ritter for the interview and wish him and the rest of the group best of luck. Also a round of thanks to the photographers who were willing to share their pics of the bridge for this article. Their names have been noted on each one. 
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