Rendsburg High Bridge’s Transport Ferry to be Dismantled

Rendsburg High Bridge’s Transport Ferry to be Dismantled

Unknown if and how the ferry can be repaired- damage substantial. UNESCO application threatened.

A few years ago, I pulled an April Fools joke on the members of the historic bridge community by writing about the Rendsburg High Bridge coming down because it was unsafe for all traffic and the need of the German Railways to build a new, modern and larger crossing.

The Rendsburg High Bridge is still coming down- just the transport ferry portion though.

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

After sustaining substantial damage to the ferry because of a collision with a ship this past Friday, the Office of Waterways and Shipping (German: Wasser- & Schiffahrtsamt- WSA) on Monday decided to dismantle the entire ferry at the earliest possible convenience.

Reason for that is because of the danger that the ferry could fall into the Baltic-North Sea Canal, hindering shipping traffic again.

It is unclear whether the ferry will be rebuilt in a similar manner as the 103-year old structure before the ship smashed into it, turning it into a pendulum and injuring two people. According to information from German public radio station NDR, the entire steel structure of the ferry was bent inwards from the impact, whereas the operating house sustained large amounts of damage, and two of the twelve cables snapped.

Repairs or even replacement could take a full year, which in the meantime, pedestrians and cyclists have to take a detour to a tunnel under the canal, which is 1.5 km east of the bridge. Drivers have to take a ferry, which is 2 km away or even the tunnel, which is heavily travelled.

The danger of this action is that the planned induction into the UNESCO World Heritage list will be threatened if no ferry is put back into place or altered to a point of no recognition. It was originally to be listed as an international site in 2017, but as of present, the future of the transport ferry is unknown.

The Rendsburg High Bridge is one of eight transporter bridges left in operation and is the only bridge in the world that features a transporter main span and a loop approach span.  But one thing is certain, the mayor of Rendburg and the villages south of the canal have agreed that a crossing at the bridge is a necessity and not having the ferry in place for good will be a massive inconvenience to the area, and this goes beyond that UNESCO World Heritage factor.

The Chronicles and sister column The Flensburg Files will keep you updated on the latest.

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