Stone arch Bridge from the 1800s to be remodeled and connected to the regional bike Trail.
REICHENBACH (VOGTLAND), SAXONY (GERMANY)- Not far from the battleground crossing at Bockau (near Aue) is another historic bridge that one of the committee members recommended me to visit. Spanning the River Göltzsch, which is the same river that is crossed by the Göltzsch Viaduct near Greiz, the Eger Bridge is located in the village of Mühlwand, approximately three kilometers from Reichenbach and just as many kilometers away from the Motorway 72 Viaduct. This structure was built in 1769, replacing three previous spans that had been constructed in 1573, 1755 and 1758, respectively, all made of wood. The bridge is a two-span stone arch structure with a span of 20 meters; two arch spans have a lengths of 8 meters and 3.6 meters, whereas the width is 5.25 meters. It has been redundant because of the concrete span that was built alongside it in 1987 but had been left open for pedestrians to use until a pair of floods caused extansive damage to the arches in 2002 and 2013; the latter forced the closure of the bridge to everyone. Upon my visit to the bridge most recently, one can see the extent of the damage to the structure, where the concrete railings have fallen apart and the stones used for the arches are exposed. It is a surprise that the bridge did not collapse earlier like it happened in Great Britain during the infamous Christmas Day floods of 2015.
Even more of a surprise is the amount of support the locals have for saving the bridge. As recently as January of this year, members of the local town councils in Reichenbach and the surrounding areas, together with the Saxony Ministry of Business and Transportation voted in favor of renovating the bridge, at a cost of 1.5 Million Euros. This includes the cost for constructing the approach to the bridge, connecting the structure with a nearby bike trail approximately 200 meters away. The costs will be shared through a private-public partnership between the state, a private Entity L.I.S.T Inc., and the City of Reichenbach, who will take over ownership of the bridge once the project is completed. How the bridge will be renovated remains unclear, but it appears that the structure will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, as it has been seen with many arch bridges in eastern Germany- the Camsdorf Bridge in Jena, which was done in 2005, and the upcoming project with the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau. Private and public partnerships are becoming the norm for bridge Building in both Germany as well as the US, where public and private entities join together to share the costs for projects like this one. There are some advantages and disadvantages to the project, which will be saved for a separate article. However one can say the cost for renovating the bridge depends on not only the size of the structure, but to what extent does the bridge need to be fixed. In the case of the Eger Bridge, as the damage is extensive, the cost can be much higher than the cost for simply redoing the decking.
Still, the renovation of the Eger Bridge is a blessing for the region, and especially for the Göltzsch Valley, for there are over three dozen stone arch bridges, big and small, spanning the river. This makes for a treat for bikers who are using the bike trail that runs parallel to the river and used to be a rail line connecting Greiz with Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic. For this bridge, there is a lot of history to learn about this, which thanks to this PPP initiative, will be preserved for vistors in Germany, Europe and Areas outside there.
Some interesting Facts about the Eger Bridge include the following:
- The bridge used to serve an interregional road connecting Altenburg (Thuringia) with Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic. It was a major trading route in the Vogtland region.
- The bridge was used many times by Napoleon’s Army during his conquest from 1806 to 1814- Napoleon himself crossed the bridge on 12 May, 1812 and again on 3 August, 1813.
- It was a major stop for the horse-and-buggy passenger and postal express during the first half of the 1800s. That route connected Dresden and Leipzig with Cheb and Nuremberg. It was equivalent to the Pony Express in the States (1861-65)
- It was located next to the Alaunawerk, which was a beer tavern beginning in 1703 but was converted into a restaurant afterwards. It burned to the ground in 1853, but the stone wall along the river next to the bridge remains.