Newsflyer 24 June, 2013

Saale-Elster Viaduct in Halle (Saale) during its construction. Photo taken in June 2011

 

Longest railroad viaduct in Germany completed; German Autobahn viaduct demolished; I-5 Bridge in Washington state reopened; conception of a truss bridge in Virginia;

A lot of activities went on this weekend involving several bridges in the US and Europe, but the biggest ones happened to occur in Germany, for while several historic bridges have fallen to progress, one made history even though it is not open to traffic just yet. Here are the headlines you need to know.

Saale-Elster Viaduct under construction. Photo taken in June 2011

Saale-Elster Viaduct near Halle (Saale) completed. To be used for rail traffic in 2016.

6.5 kilometers long- equivalent to over four miles.  20-30 meters tall, tall enough to ride over the waters of the Saale and White Elster Rivers even if the fields and roads are underwater. All concrete except for the steel through arch span spanning a 2.1 kilometer approach viaduct connecting Halle (Saale) and the main railline. Those are the features of the new Saale-Elster Viaduct, which was completed this past Saturday at a cost of over 800 million Euros, mostly financed by the federal government and the Die Bahn (German Railways). It is part of the multi-billion Euro project that has been ongoing since 1992 and features not only this bridge, but hundreds of other bridges and tunnels as the new ICE-train route will connect Leipzig and Halle with Nuremberg via Erfurt. When the bridge is open to traffic at the beginning of 2016, all trips between Berlin and Munich as well as Frankfurt (Main) and Dresden will be cut in half as the ICE trains are expected to travel up to 350 kmph (180 mph) to their destinations. The viaduct can be seen along the InterCity railline connecting Halle (Saale) and Jena just after crossing the historic Skopau Bridge spanning the Saale River south of the southernmost city in Saxony-Anhalt. This bridge is not only the longest railroad viaduct in Germany- even surpassing another ICE-Viaduct the Rombachtal Viaduct in eastern Hesse, which still holds the title as the second tallest in Germany. The bridge is the longest vehicular viaduct in Germany, surpassing the Motorway A6 viaduct near Neckarsulm in Baden- Wurttemberg.

 

The Skopau Railroad Bridge serving the IC Jena-Halle line and the Saale River bike trail. From here you can see the newly completed longest viaduct in Germany. Photo taken in June 2011

The Rombachtal Viaduct in eastern Hesse spanning the Rombach and the Eisenach- Kassel railline carrying the Frankfurt-Hamburg ICE line between Fulda and Kassel. Photo taken in May 2010

 

Autobahn Motorway viaduct near Fulda demolished.

Heading 230 kilometers to the southwest to northwestern Bavaria, another viaduct made the headlines but in a different way. Located in Bad Bruckenau in the district of Bad Kissingen, east of Frankfurt (Main), the Sinnetal Viaduct made headlines for the 46 year-old viaduct made of steel and concrete was imploded on Saturday. As many as 8,000 spectators watched in awe as explosives installed in the concrete columns were detonated, and the entire structure fell 100 meters to the ground in four seconds. Built in 1967 to serve the longest and most heavily traveled Autobahn A7 connecting Flensburg and Austria, the 800 meter long bridge became the poster boy of how concrete bridges were treated, with salt and other substances that penetrated the concrete and steel causing rust and erosion, and with heavily travelled vehicles, some of which went over the weight and height limit. Already in 2009, construction had started on its replacement and was completed and opened to traffic at the beginning of this year. The demolition of the old bridge (shown here in this article) should serve as a reminder to state and federal agencies that even modern bridges require maintenance in order for them to last longer than 50 years. There’s no such thing as a bridge requiring no maintenance and lasting 100 years and the Sinnetal Bridge should serve as an example for agencies to rethink the way bridges are being handled by traffic.

The Magodee Bridge (old) being lifted by crane. Photo taken by Donald Sowers, used with permission

Truss bridge replaced with another truss bridge. Old bridge to be reused.

Sometimes it is not necessary to replace truss bridges with concrete bridges, but with another truss bridge. Such trends have been reported in states, like Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia, for they are conventional and the aesthetics match the scenery than a white bland bridge. But for this bridge, the Magodee Bridge in Franklin County, Virginia, it may set a new trend for other historic bridges receiving new life. The 1929 Warren pony truss was replaced recently with- another Warren pony truss! The length is almost identical and both have riveted connections! The difference? The new pony truss bridge is now used for vehicular traffic, while the old pony truss span, now located behind the old mill, as seen in the pics courtesy of Donald Sowers, will receive new life as a pedestrian bridge located only a few hundred meters from the existing structure! Wouldn’t you like to have an old bridge and a new nearly identical span located not far from each other being used as a tourist trap? For the owner of the mill and the old bridge, the dream will become a reality. For more information on how to make the reality come true, please contact Mr. Sowers at this e-mail address: desowers@centurylink.net.

The new Magodee Bridge with the old span behind the mill. Photo taken by Donald Sowers, used with permission

I-5 Washington Bridge reopens but on restrictions

Nearly a month after the spectactular collapse of the Skagit River Interstate 5 Bridge in Washington state, the collapsed portion of the bridge was rebuilt, using Bailey trusses, and the bridge was reopened to traffic on Friday. But there are several exceptions: No oversized trucks and vehicles requiring special permits will be allowed to use the bridge and will be forced to take the detours that have been used since the collapse. The speed limit has been reduced to 40 mph instead of 60 as enforced before the accident. And the spans are only temporary as the state and federal governments are planning a more permanent crossing, although it is unclear whether the temporary span will be rebuilt as a permanent span or if the entire bridge itself, built in 1956 featuring a Warren through truss design, will be demolished in favor of a newer and even wider bridge. The Chronicles will keep you up to date on the developments regarding the bridge.

29 new bridges in 19 kilometers along the German Autobahn 9!

Built in 1936, the German Autobahn Motorway 9, connecting Berlin and Munich is known as the oldest freeway in Germany, and one of the oldest freeways in the world with many historic markers, including the oldest motorway inn Rodatal in Thuringia, the Vockeroda Bridge and neon marker in Saxony-Anhalt, the Hirschberg Restaurant, one of only two located over the motorway in Germany, and the Bridge of German Unity located at the Bavaria-Thuringia border which also served as the border crossing between East and West Germany. Since 1990 the 530 kilometer (330 mile) route was expanded from four lanes with no emergency lanes to six lanes with emergency lanes to provide safety and efficiency along the highway. This includes the replacement of bridges and overpasses dating as far back as 1936. At the present time, construction is commencing on the last bottleneck between Triptis in Thuringia and the Bavarian border- a span of 20 kilometers. With that, the last of the 1936 bridges and overpassees are coming down for they no longer are able to accomodate the increase in traffic. This includes 18 overpasses and the expansion of the border bridge, built in 1966 replacing the 1936 structure that was destroyed in World War II. Overall, there will be 29 new bridges with modern but attractive appearances when the project is finished in 2014. This includes the railroad bridge connecting the rail line between Schleiz and Ziegenrück on the Saale River. Out of service since 1990, there is hope that funding is available to build a new bridge and connect the two villages by train. At the moment, a dandyhorse rail service is being used by tourists, but once the railroad overpass is completed and the line reopened, the area will become a magnet for tourists again.

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