Rendsburg High Bridge Coming Down

Rendsburg High Bridge in Rendsburg, Germany Photo taken by the author in April 2011

France has its Millau Viaduct and the arch bridges along the Rhone and in Paris. Canada has its Lion’s Gate Bridge and the Confederate Viaduct. America has its Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges. In Germany, there is the Jungfern Bridge in Berlin, the Goltzschtal Viaduct in the Vogtland and this bridge, the Rendsburg High Bridge.
Spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal in central Schleswig-Holstein, the Rendsburg High Bridge features three parts: a cantilever truss bridge carrying a rail line connecting Hamburg and Flensburg; underneath is the transporter part, carrying cars, people and bikes across the canal at intervals, and on the northern side of the canal, there is the loop approach made of steel trestles which overshadows the city of Rendsburg. Built in 1913 by Friedrich Voss, the bridge is one of its kind in the world, with a total length of 2500 meters (8150 feet); the canal span measuring 140 meters (460 feet).
Yet this bridge became the target of outcry from residents in the city and many pontists throughout the world, as an agreement was made on Friday to tear down the entire structure and replace it with a cable-stayed bridge. While the design has not been developed yet, insiders at the German Railways Corporation Deutsche Bahn, have mentioned that the bridge is to look like the eastern half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is being constructed to replace the 1936 cantilever truss span, even as this article goes to the press.

Spiral approach of the Rendsburg High Bridge. Photo taken in April 2011

While work on restoring the entire bridge has been ongoing since 1990, the reason for the abrupt decision is that there were reports of extreme  rust and corrosion on four of the trestle spans on the Rendsburg side of the bridge, as well as the deck truss span that is located above the railway track that starts its gradual ascent to the bridge after leaving Rendsburg Railway Station. As the Deutsche Bahn recently signed an Inter-European Railway Agreement with Sweden and Denmark to introduce the Swedish SX2000 Trains, connecting Stockholm with Hamburg and Berlin, officials at the Deutsche Bahn, the Danish Railways, and the Swedish Railways have deemed the Rendsburg High Bridge incompatible to accommodate these trains going at 350 km/h.

Currently, the Danish Railways run four InterCityExpress trains in each direction between Aalborg and Berlin daily, with the Deutsche Bahn running six InterCity trains between Flensburg and areas to the south and west of Germany.  The Swedish Railways has two X2000 Trains running in each direction daily, connecting Copenhagen with Stockholm, and crossing the Oresund Bridge that links the Danish capital with Malmö.

Main span of Rendsburg High Bridge. Photo taken in April 2011

A petition has begun to stop the demolition of the bridge by as many as three different organizations, with calls for a second inspection on the bridge to be conducted by Fuchs and Lustig, a giant engineering firm located in Cologne, in North Rhein-Westphalia, being echoed throughout all of Germany. Founded by Peter Lustig and with Fritz Fuchs being president, the company has overturned plans for a box girder bridge over the Rhine River to replace the aging Neuwied Bridge in Rheinland Palatinate, a cable-stayed bridge that was built in 1970, and has advocated for suspension bridges as the main bridge design because of its flexibility in terms of managing wind and high volumes of traffic.
Still despite claims that the demolition and replacement of the bridge would be a waste of money, costing over $3.76 trillion, officials are not wasting any time with planning this event as they would like to introduce the XS2000 Trains on German soil by 2020. While traffic between Flensburg and Hamburg would be rerouted via Kiel and Eckerfördern- part of the reason being the construction of the mega-border train station Flensburg-West, which would relieve rail traffic going in and out of its current station in Flensburg- the demolition and replacement of the Rendsburg High Bridge will take place when pigs and cows grow wings and fly over the moon!  APRIL FOOLS!  ;-)
The reason it will never happen? Because renovations are almost complete on the bridge and as the mega-structure turns 100 years old this year, the bridge will be receiving international recognition in the fall by various international organizations. At that time, the bridge will be running two-way rail traffic again connecting Flensburg and Hamburg, with Flensburg keeping its main station for all international train travel.
The author has visited the bridge on three different occasions and has even filmed parts of the bridge from different angles. You can view them here. An impressionist article about the bridge will be posted this month in the Chronicles. Stay tuned!

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