The Bridges of Silberstrasse to Get a Makeover

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Three bridges to go “under the knife” beginning in March. One of them is scheduled to be removed. Fourth one may follow pending on approval. Projects to end by December.

ZWICKAU/ WILKAU-HASSLAU/ SILBERSTRASSE, GERMANY- Travellers going to the Ore Mountains from Zwickau will have to consider alternatives to travelling- at least by car- in the next nine months. Beginning in March, the main Highway B93 from Zwickau to Schneeberg will have two bridges be rehabilitated. A third one nearby is scheduled to be demolished after being abandoned for decades. A project involving the fourth one may be underway soon, pending on approval. All four have been in service for over a century and have historic significance. To determine which ones, here are the details.

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Highway B 93 Bahnhofsbrücke- A one-span arch bridge with a length of 80 meters, this bridge spans the rail tracks of the Zwickau-Aue line, 30 meters south of the train station, Silberstrasse. It is the main artery going through the village as the highway connects Wilkau-Hasslau with Wiesenburg for thousands of cars use this bridge in both directions daily. It is also the primary crossing for local busses. As part of the plan to widen the highway, the decking will be replaced with a new, widen one, but not before the stone arch is strengthened. It is hoped that an additional lane is built as the highway makes a sharp, uphill curve to the right, which is dangerous even for truckers. If not, at least the curve can be straightened out. Pedestrians can still use the bridge during the rehabilitation project but access will be restricted.

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Heubrücke– Located 100 meters south of the Bahnhofsbrücke is another arch structure made of stone. The 90 meter span is over 150 years old but has been closed to traffic for decades- to pedestrians a few years ago. For safety reasons and because of its uselessness, the local town council is looking into tearing down the span and not replacing it. No replacement structure is expected here. What’s holding the council back is the funding for the bridge removal, which is expected to be approved at the time of the rehab project.

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Muldenbrücke in Wilkau-Hasslau- The rehab of the B93 bridge may be more of a blessing for the eight-span Luten arch bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde. The 1867 span connects B93 on the east end with the town center on the right, carrying the road going to Cunnersdorf and Kirchberg. Inspections revealed moisture going into the arches and damage to the decking and the arches. Because the arches are still useable, the bridge will not be torn down. Instead the arches will be repaired and new decking will replace the old one. New lighting will replace those from 40 years ago. The bridge is a major sticking point for many cars have to wait on the structure because of the traffic light on the east end, where the main highway is located. Yet the bridge has connected both sides of Wilkau-Hasslau for almost 150 years and the rehab project will be a first where this key connection will be lost- at least for drivers.

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Cainsdorf Bridge- The wild card in the project is the Cainsdorf Bridge, a two-span steel girder bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde between the rail line and Highway B93. The 1929 bridge was scheduled to be replaced last year but the details of the replacement span and the costs for the variants have still yet to be determined. It is hoped that the plans can be finalized this year and the project can proceed. Most of the variants point to the historic bridge being reused for bikes and pedestrians.

According to the Free Press, the B 93 will be open to local traffic only, which will help businesses affected by the projects- in particular, in Wilkau-Hasslau as there are many eateries and supermarkets along the highway.  Yet for those wishing to go to Schneeberg and all points in the Ore Mountains, there are detours available which will relieve the stretch of all inner-city traffic for much of the time of the project. Here are the alternatives:

  1. At the traffic light before the Schedewitz Bridge, turn right onto Bahnstrasse. Follow it to Lengenfelder Strasse and turn left. Follow Lengenfelder Strasse through Schedewitz and Planitz until it joins state highway 293, the bypass that goes around Zwickau and connects Werdau with Schneeberg and Lengenfeld/Schneeberg. Take the route going to the latter and follow that to the Motorway 72 exit Zwickau-West. Continue straight on the bypass, which passes Kirchberg and other villages before it joins B93 just north of Schneeberg.
  2. At the traffic light before the Schedewitz Bridge, go straight and cross the bridge. At the next traffic light, the road makes a curve to the left. Stay on that road and continue, going past Reinsdorf. At the Motorway 72, turn left and take the route going to Hof. Continue for 13 km until exiting at Zwickau West. At the traffic light, turn right and continue on the bypass which passes Kirchberg and joins B93 north of Schneeberg.
  3. At the traffic light before the Schedewitz Bridge, go straight and cross the bridge. At the next traffic light, the road makes a curve to the left. Stay on that road and continue, going past Reinsdorf and the Motorway (72) exit, Zwickau-Ost. You will drive through Wildenfels before entering Hartenstein. There, turn right and follow the street to Burg Stein (Stein Castle), before taking the road to Wildbach. That road cuts through vast forests before it enters Schneeberg from the east.

 

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When using the detours, there will be a high risk of traffic jams and other congestion because of the high volume of regular traffic that uses these routes. Each one will add at least 30 kilometers and 30 minutes to your estimated travel time.

There will be no changes in rail plans, but delays are expected as the two-track line at Silberstrasse will be reduced to one during the project. Travelers will need to plan ahead and be patient.

The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest developments. Information on the Muldenbrücke at Wilkau-Hasslau and the Cainsdorf Bridge south of Zwickau can be found in the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges, which you can access here.

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