Another Flöha Bridge Under the Knife?

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Through Arch Bridge over the River Zschopau Facing Unknown Fate After Inspection Finds the 16-year old Structure Unsafe for Use.

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NIEDERWIESA/ FLÖHA- Not even two weeks after fire destroyed the Apfelsinenbrücke (Orange Bridge) in Flöha, another bridge two miles down river along the River Zschopau may be facing the same wrecking ball. The Braunsdorf Pedestrian Bridge, located over the River Zschopau south of the Weaver Mill, is a wooden through arch bridge with steel features. The top chord Features a subdivided Warren truss design which zigzags from portal to portal, which is typical for many through arches of its kind in Germany.  The bridge connects Braunsdorf with Niederwiesa via a small  island, which carries a bike and pedestrian path. The 40-meter long, 2 meter wide bridge was erected in 2002, shortly after the Great Flood which wreaked havoc on every river in Germany, causing hundreds of billions in damages as well as the destruction of dozens of historic bridges. This includes the Fünferbrücke, two kilometers north of the bridge which connected Braunsdorf with the Lichtenwalde Castle.

During my recent visit in the region, the bridge appeared to have a modern built and seemed to be safe for use, even though a stone at each entrance discourages the use of the bridge.

Yet according to an inspection done by a local engineering firm, the bridge is unsafe for use because of components that have been compromised and need replacement. Furthermore, the decking needs to be replaced completely, despite it being sound, judging by observations. The abutments and other components are covered with moss and the arch itself has not been painted or even varnished. In an interview with the Chemnitz Free Press, the town council of Niederwiesa (which Braunsdorf belongs to) confirmed that the bridge has not been maintained properly and are now facing a big bill for the work that needs to be done.

Since the parts are replaceable and the bridge can be painted, the cost for rehabilitation would be 378,000 Euros (In US terms: $420,000). Yet the council is also considering replacing the bridge with a steel structure which would be 500,000 Euros (or $610,000), even though the arch structure is only 16 years old and very modern.

What would you prefer if you were a member of the town council of Niederwiesa?

 

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Niederwiesa is only two river kilometers northeast of Flöha but is an independent entity which Braunsdorf belongs to. The community with 5,000 inhabitants is located 13 kilometers east of Chemnitz.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 7

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to Germany and to the state of Saxony. This time, however, we are going to the Vogtland region and to this city, Plauen.  With 66,200 inhabitants, the city is the capital of the Vogtland district and is the second largest city along the White Elster River, The city is the sixth largest in the state behind Zwickau, Chemnitz, Görlitz, Leipzig and Dresden. And this historic arch bridge is one of the oldest in Saxony. It was built in 1636 and had served traffic connecting its city center with the southern suburbs before it was decommissioned in favor of a concrete bridge, built 40 meters to the west, in 2001. The bridge has since been repurposed as a pedestrian and bike crossing and even has a beach pub on the northern bank of the river.

This shot was taken at sundown in May 2018 and features the bridge, the city’s skyline featuring the cathedral and the tower of the city hall, and a colorful background that makes this sunset shot a “once in a lifetime” one, even after making some artwork out of it with Instagram.

As far as the other bridges in Plauen are concerned, there are at least two dozen structures in the city as well as within a radius of 10 kilometers. They include those in the outlying areas, such as Jocketa, Oessnitz, Weichlitz and even Pirk, some of them being viaducts carrying either the Nuremberg-Hof-Chemnitz-Dresden Railline or the Motorway A 72 which originally connected Chemnitz with Hof but has now included an Extension to Leipzig-Süd. The author is in the process of touring the area and will have a tour guide ready by the end of this year. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the scenery this Bridge and the city’s guideline presents you.

Have a nice Weekend! 🙂

 

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Two Historic Vogtland Bridges Coming Down

Riss Bridge at the Rodewisch Park Complex. This bridge will be replaced this summer. All photos taken in April 2018

Two Goltzsch River Bridges two kilometers from each other to be replaced with modern structures due to age and liability.

 

AUERBACH (VOGTLAND), SAXONY (GERMANY)-  There are three ways of justifying the demolition of a historic Bridge, regardless of design and age. The first, as we are seeing with the Frank Wood Bridge in Maine, is the sugar-coating of the public in believing that the new Bridge will last 100 years, never Need maintenance and will look nicer. 99% of the time are These Facts rather fake when fact-checking their Arguments. However, the second and third are just as common as the first, and are being practiced on a pair of bridges west of Schneeberg in the Vogtland Region of the German state of Saxony. One is negligence but to a Point where Rehabilitation is next to impossible because of exorbitant costs. This is the reason behind the demolition and replacement of the Riss Bridge (Rißbrücke) in Rodewisch. The third is the argument that the Bridge can no longer carry traffic, even if it was rehabilitated. This is the case with the Schulstrassebrücke in Auerbach. Both bridges span the River Göltzsch, which flows to the longest stone arch bridge in the world, the Göltzschtalbrücke near Netzschkau and flows parallel to the main Highway, B-169. Both bridges are two kilometers away from each other. And two bridges are the subject of the Chronicles’ Newsflyer article.

 

RISSBRUECKE (RISS BRIDGE) IN RODEWISCH

This bridge carries Park Street and cuts through the city park enroute to a church and Stone arch Bridge, 400 meters to the east. It can be seen from the main highway on the west bank. This 40 meter long closed spandrel arch bridge is at least 90 years old, but has been the subject of neglect, for spalling cracks on its abutments peeling on ist facade have weakened the structure to a point where it has been closed to all but pedestrians and cyclists for many years. Furthermore, the original railings have deteriorated to a point where concrete parts are falling into the river and the metal endoskeleton has appeared on 80% of the railings. Attempts to catch the falling debris using a net has been proven futile. In September, residents voted unanimously to replace the structure with a modern one, which will be a cable-stayed bridge with leaning towers. Since the start of April, workers have cleared away trees and bushes to get to the Bridge. It is scheduled to be demolished beginning in June, and the new structure will be open to traffic by the beginning of 2019. While lack of funding during the East German period may have played a role in allowing the bridge to fall apart, that funding had not been available to restore this bridge since 1990 and it has raised the question of priority between the bridge and other places that have been restored in and around Rodewisch. Sadly this bridge has gotten the wrong end of the stick and for those wishing for a new modern structure, their wish will come true soon.

Close-up of the deteriorated railings

 

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SCHOOL STREET BRIDGE (SCHULSTRASSEBRÜCKE)  IN AUERBACH: Since Easter, work has started to remove this unique brick arch Bridge connecting the City Center with the main Highway. The bridge was built in the late 1890s using granite mined from the Ore Mountains and had been rehabilitated just after the Fall of the Wall. Despite that, the 20-meter long structure is too narrow and light for trucks and therefore, the bridge will be replaced. The replacement structure will be twice the width of the 13-meter Bridge and will include turning lanes more convenient for the growing traffic. Yet questions remain about the justification of replacing the bridge because of the traffic going through the City Center already. Plus the arch structure appeared in great shape at the time of the author’s visit. Nevertheless People will suffer from the inconvenience for the next half year as the old will come out in favor of the new which will be met with mixed results come time of ist opening in the fall.

 

Mystery Bridge(s) Nr. 80: The Waldenburg Canal Bridges

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This mystery bridge article takes us back to western Saxony and a village northeast of Glauchau called Waldenburg. With a population of close to 5,000 inhabitants, the town is located on the western bank of the Zwickauer Mulde, has a beautiful castle and historic city center, as well as an international European School. A link to the city’s homepage will show you what the town looks like and some of the things you can do there.

Aside from a 1940s style bridge that is the primary crossing in Waldenburg, the mystery lies behind a canal located between Waldenburg and a neighboring village Remse. There, two bridges- an arch bridge and a steel pony through girder bridge span this canal, which appears to be at least 60 years old, if not, older. The canal was built along the right-hand side of the Mulde, and it is unknown what its use was. One can make one of two conclusions:

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  1. The canal was built as a diversion canal, similar to the one built in Glauchau that encircled the western part of the city to alleviate the flooding. There, Heinrich Carl Hedrich had already established himself as the inventor of the city drainage system and may have been involved in the designing and construction of the Flutgraben. He had been the city engineer prior to the flooding of 1858 which caused considerable damage to Glauchau and all places to the northeast, including Waldenburg. It is possible that the canal at Waldenburg dates back to the timespan between 1860 and 1900, the time when Glauchau’s diversion canal was being built. As low as the two crossings were, it would be the most logical conclusion as it passage underneath was (and is still is) next to impossible. Yet having a concrete tiling at the bottom of the canal, plus the proximity of the canal to Waldenburg and the palace could lead to conclusion number…..

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  1. The canal provided passage for boats between Remse and Waldenburg. The Mulde is notorious for being shallow but also very muddy, thus making transportation almost impossible. Even water was transported over the river via pipes, thanks to the Röhrensteg in Zwickau, located south of Glauchau and Waldenburg. Therefore diversion canals were the easiest way to go for transporting boats between Glauchau and Waldenburg, having been built in places where the river made boat passage impossible. If this theory is true, then the bridges that exist today were built many years later, between the 1930s and 1950s, when boat traffic ceased because of the coming of the automobile, combined with World War II and its after-effects. However……

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  1. The canal may have been used for transporting drinking water between Glauchau and Waldenburg. The evidence behind this lies with the aquifers that exist at the dam where the canal starts in Remse combined with the water treatment station located west of Waldenburg, where highways 180 and 175 meet. As dirty as the river was (and still is to a degree today), the filtering complex was built in 1899 by the city of Meerane (west of Glauchau but owns Remse) where the dirt and other debris were filtered out and the water was cleaned of all harmful bacteria.

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To sum up, the canal with the two bridges may have been used as a diversion canal, like the one in Glauchau, for boat passage between Glauchau and Waldenburg or for allowing the flow of drinking water to Waldenburg. The question is which one was used for what. When that is answered, then the question is who was behind both the canal and the two bridges and why?

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You have the answers? You know what to do. For reference purposes, check out the Bridges of Glauchau and Zwickau (links highlighted) where you can read more about the Mulde and how it was tamed by crossings that transported water and diversion canals that protected at least Glauchau from further flooding.

Note: This is both a mystery bridge as well as a mystery infrastructure, hence its post in sister column, The Flensburg Files.

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Wengelsdorf Bridge in Saxony-Anhalt Coming Down

Photo taken in 2011
Photo taken in 2011

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Century-old railroad overpass spanning the rail lines between Leipzig/Halle and Naumburg (Saale) being demolished after sitting idle for almost three decades.

GROSSKORBETHA/BAD DURRENBERG/LEIPZIG-  Travellers passing through the German states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt by train have been seeing a lot of construction on the rail lines, lately. As part of the modernization process, overhead electrical lines that provide power to trains are being replaced because of age, tracks are being replaced or added, train stations are being rebuilt and unused bridges are being taken down. The Wengelsdorf Bridge at Grosskorbetha is one of the bridges that has fallen victim to progress. Sitting idle since 1990, the 1910 structure, which was rehabilitated and extended in 1945 and used to connect the villages of Wengelsdorf and Grosskorbetha, is coming down in pieces. Already gone is the larger half featuring the signature arch spans over the rail line going to Leipzig, work is being done to replace the line going to Halle (Saale) as this article is being posted. The city council in Weissenfels and the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn)  in 2013 agreed to provide 1.4 million Euros ($2.1 million) to remove the 150-meter long structure, which belongs to the Bahn, as the bridge had become a hindrance to train service and it no longer was deemed useful. The demolition is part of the plan by the Bahn to modernize the railroad yard and junction at Grosskorbetha, which include new tracks and overhead lines, both of which are at least 50 years old. While the project is expected to be completed by 2018, the bridge is expected to be gone by the end of August of this year.  By that time, the construction year, already touted as the worst in the history of the Deutsche Bahn with several major projects and railroad detours, will have reached its end, and passengers will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as they commute between work and home- without the delays and other complications.

As for the Wengelsdorf Bridge, a Mystery Bridge in itself, what will be left behind is history that will be discovered in books and through oral sources.

Check out the mystery bridge article on this bridge here.

ALSO: Try your luck on Saxony-Anhalt with a quiz, provided by sister column The Flensburg Files, which you can click here. Answer sheet is provided via link.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 67: The Railroad Bridge at Halle (Saale) Central Station

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Staying in Saxony-Anhalt for the next mystery bridge article, we head back to Halle (Saale). As many of you have probably read, the city along the Saale River has over 38 bridges along this main river, its tributaries and even along the ICE rail line. While there is a tour guide that takes you to the city’s bridges through the Chronicles and Halle in Bild, neither authors figured in that there would be a few additional outlyers with historic value that should be taken into account, and added.

Like this railroad crossing, for example.

Located less than 100 meters north of Halle Central Station, this western crossing looks like just an ordinary railroad bridge- or a series of railroad bridges as there are six bridges serving seven tracks- one each track except for the outermost crossing. As a bonus, one can enjoy the view of the historic water tower when crossing it.  Yet when looking at the bridge more closely, one can see the history behind this construction:

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The finials were located only at the southern entrance to the structure, right before entering the platform of Halle Central Station. They resemble sword-shaped towers resembling Washington Monument in the United States, with Victorian-like foundations, standing on the abutments made of sandstone and limestone brick and concrete. An inscription with the year 1909 indicated the year the bridge was constructed, spanning Delitzscher Strasse. The bridge’s railings are made of cast iron and feature a parapet that has circilar and mushroom shapes with posts that feature a pyramid-shaped finial and a an outrigger per post that resembles a raindrop.  Outriggers are diagonal posts that slant outwards at an angle 60-80° and used to support the trusses for pony truss bridges and railings for stringers, like this one, regardless of length. Many stringer bridges in Germany have these ornamental outriggers which makes the structure rather attractive. In America, one will see most outriggers on truss bridges, especially those built after 1900 with riveted connections in the form of Pratt, Howe or Warren truss designs, and have geometric shapes.

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Judging by the main span, it appears that the structure is one of two bridge types: 1. It is a stringer which was constructed a few years ago to replace an arch bridge with either open-or-closed spandrel design or a truss design. This would make the most sense as Delitzscher Strasse is one of key streets connecting Halle City and the train station with points to the west, including Delitzsch, the Leipzig-Halle Airport and neighboring Leipzig. To accommodate more traffic, the arches were removed in favor of the stringer span, but the ornamental railings and the finials were preserved as historical markers, showing people where the bridge used to stand. With the modernization of Halle Central Station, this theory would not come as a surprise, given the fact that the complex was in such a desolate state during the time of the East German Communist rule.

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Halle Hauptbahnhof Complex as it stands today.

Then there is option two, which is the stringer has stood since 1909 but had to be rehabilitated to accomodate rail traffic. This theory is tall but doable as engineering experiments have been done to either strengthen or partially replace the decking while keeping the bridge design in place, a concept that costs less money than a full replacement. Yet, given the modernization-happiness of the Deutsche Bahn, which owns the lines and the railway station complex, it is doubtful that the firm would go for quick fix-ups, as they want to conform to the modern rail standards and would rather have new bridges that function for 100 years than to have a restored bridge, like this one. Whe one looks at the firm’s campaign to have the 53-year old Fehmarn Bridge in Schleswig-Holstein torn down and replaced or the Chemnitz Viaduct replaced, one will understand why the Bahn is not listening to alternatives by local and regional governments. By the way, the fight to save the bridges is still on, and other European countries have modernized their rail lines but kept their historic bridges, including Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and even Belgium.

Keeping the theories in mind, we now turn to the forum, providing the following questions for you to ponder and share information about. Feel free to comment on them as the people in Halle would like to know more about this bridge, possibly adding it into a book that should be written on the city’s bridges (see a collection here). Here are the questions for the forum:

  1. When was this bridge built and who was behind the design?
  2. Is the current bridge the restored original or a replacement? If the latter, when was it replaced?
  3. If the bridge was restored, how was it done and who led the efforts?
  4. Who was behind the design of the ornamental railings and finials?

The forum is now open…… 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 66: The Railroad Viaduct at Grosskorbetha

Photo taken in 2011
Photo taken in 2011

While on the subject of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt as there is a quiz on this subject (click here to challenge yourself), there are a few historic bridges in the state that many of us don’t know about. Many of them have been abandoned, and the little records that may have existed in the past vanished because of war and political oppression. Saxony-Anhalt was one of five German states that fell under the rule of two different dictators between 1933 and 1990: The first with Hitler and the second under Communism. During that time, records of these structures were either lost or altered in an attempt to prop up the goodness of these two regimes, when they anything but that.

This railroad viaduct in Grosskorbetha is one of these gigantic structures that has been sitting abandoned for decades and whose records on its history may have been lost to time and the iron fist. Grosskorbetha is a village in southern Saxony-Anhalt thatis the bridge between the industrial area to the north and the wine industry to the south. It is a transitional point in terms of landscape where going south, one can see the limestone hills lining along the Saale and Unstrut Rivers. Going north, it has nothing but flat plains. It is an outlyer to the megalopolis region of Leipzig and Halle, which includes Bad Durrenberg, Merseburg, Schkopau, Delitzsch and Bitterfeld-Wolfen.  And it is the Grand Central Station (or in German terms, Hamburg Hauptbahnhof) for all freight trains, especially as they branch off into three parts going north: to Leipzig, to Halle and to the petroleum area in Leuna.  For passenger train service, no one can escape seeing these trains and industrial complexes when passing through.

And for this railroad bridge, which is an nine-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge, it is the structure which one will pass through by train, noticing all the cracks and spalling, the barriers keeping everyone off the structure, but one will have a difficult time photographing it. This shot was taken by train but at speeds of 120 km/h. The bridge is located a kilometer north of the train station, which makes walking ti the structure impossible, given the high volume of traffic at this junction. Even Nathan Holth would face the wrath of the Bahn in one form or another if he was to even try to walk to the bridge. 😉  But what we can say about the bridge is it is at least 80 years old, and it has withstood damages caused by war, wear and tear and trains passing through. Crossing the main passenger lines heading to Leipzig and Halle, one could say the bridge is well over 170 meters long. And the width is enough to hold vehicular traffic in both directions, especially when it connects Leuna and Grosskorbertha.  But…..

What else do we know about this bridge?  Any ideas in English or German would be of great help.

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Author’s Tip: As a tip when photographing bridges like these: If you cannot zoom in with your camera, try by train, but use the speed modus, and fire away as you approach the bridge. If you miss, turn around and try when the train goes away from the bridge. The second step is easier than the first, but you will be able to get a “drive-by” shot while the train is in motion.  My success here came after the train passed through the bridge, except it was with the red regional trains which have since been decommissioned due to age.  They featured windows you can open and stick your arms and camera out for a good shot.  With the newer trains by the rail service Abellio, the windows are fixed shut and it may be more difficult to photograph with a closed window, but still, it is doable.

 

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