The Railroad Bridges along the Pegnitz Valley in Bavaria

 

One of the Deck Truss Bridges spanning the River Pegnitz  Source: Roehrensee [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D
Film clip

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Starting in the Fichtel Mountains in northeastern Bavaria, the River Pegnitz snakes its way through steep cliffs and deep forests enroute to Nuremberg. It’s hard to believe that one could build dozens of bridges and tunnels to accommodate rail traffic. But that was part of the concept for the construction of the Pegnitztal Railway in 1874. Using the section of the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistral at Schnabelwald as its starting point, the project to build the line took three years to complete, ending in 1877 to provide direct access to Bayreuth from Nuremberg. Originally the Magistral went through Bamberg but railroad officials chose Bayreuth as the quicker alternative. At Schnabelwald, the line branched off to the east, reaching Marktredwitz and ending at Cheb in the Czech Republic by 1879.   As many as 23 railroad bridges and seven tunnels occupy the stretch between Schnabelwald and Hersbruck near Nuremberg. Many of them are of original construction. Two thirds of these bridges are truss spans mainly of Warren design.

Sadly, these bridges are in danger of being demolished and replaced. The German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) is planning to electrify the entire rail line to Nuremberg from Dresden (via Bayreuth and Hof) and Cheb (via Marktredwitz), respectively, to provide better and faster service among the cities. The plan is to have more passenger and freight service running on electricity by 2030, including Inter-City trains. And with that, all the bridges should be replaced.

Or should they? Residents of the communities have voiced their opposition to replacing the bridges due to their historic character, high costs for the concrete structures and the increase in noise in the region. Since 2012, the initiative to save the Pegnitztal Bridges has been in place with the goal of saving as many of the 23 structures as possible. There have been meetings, hiking events and the like since the initiative started and as of date, many people from the area have joined in the fight to protect these bridges and find more constructive ways to restore them and reuse them as part of the modern route.  To determine what these bridges are all about, here’s a tour guide video on the bridges along the Pegnitztal Railroad with close-ups of them all.

The fight to save them have been mixed. Engineering surveys have recommended five of the 23 structures to be rehabilitated and fit for further use. Yet sadly, five of them are scheduled to be replaced. While one of them, a short, 20 meter span, was replaced in 2013, the following three were replaced in 2018, as seen in the video below. Currently, temporary bridges are being built while designs for the new structures are being determined.  It is still unknown what will happen with the remaining 16 structures. But one thing is clear, the Initiative will continue to fight for every bridge until either the renovation or replacement job is completed. The German Railways have recently introduce measures to provide 180 billion Euros for rehabilitatinig bridges over the next ten years and have been able to compromise on some of the bridges. Yet still, they are baby steps in the name of progress, and more will have to be done to ensure a peaceful co-existence between a modern railline going northeast running on electricity and protecting the history of the structures, typical of the Pegnitztal Rail line, historically significant and definitely one that fits in the nature and is worth seeing while traveling along the Pegnitz.

Link with Information on the Bridges and the Initiative to Save them: http://www.bahnbruecken.info/ 

 

 

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Chemnitztal Viaduct to be Rehabilitated

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Twin viaducts- the shorter of the two to be rehabilitated come April. This is the half with the arch spans. Photos taken in December 2016

The western of the twin viaducts to receive a functional and cosmetic makeover to make way for the long-distance trains. Construction to commence in May.

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CHEMNITZ- Following the Chemnitz Viaduct between the railway stations Chemnitz-Mitte and Chemnitz-South and the Rabenstein Viaduct in the western part of the city, there is a third major railroad viaduct that will be renovated beginning this summer. This one is in the industrial district in the northeastern part of the city.

The Chemnitztal Viaducts features not just one but two viaducts spanning the River Chemnitz, a bike trail and one of the key streets going to the industrial district, the Blankenauer Strasse. It is located near the heating plant with its signature colored smokestack that is 300 meters tall and is the tallest in Chemnitz. Opposite the river is the castle gardens. The older of the two was built from 1869 to 1871, features a total of 15 spans (6 deck truss spans measured at 25.5 meters and 9 arches at 11.8 meters each, respectively) and a total of 308 meters. The younger of the spans was built in 1899 by one of the most popular bridge builders in Germany at that time, Dyckerhoff and Widmann, features 12 arches, has a total length of 366.3 meters and is 20 meters taller than its twin. That bridge was used for freight service before being decommissioned in 1999.

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The twin viaducts with the trussed girder spans of the shorter viaduct that is scheduled to be rehabilitated. Photo taken from the Chemnitzal Bike Trail.

The older of the twins is the focus of rehabilitation that will start in April. According to information by the Chemnitz Free Press, based on the project presented by the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn), the project is expected to take six months and will require the closure of the Chemnitz-Leipzig line from the end of May until the middle of September. The plan is to strengthen the arch spans and remodel them to accommodate train traffic in the future. Plans are in the making to electrify the rail line between Leipzig and Chemnitz shortly afterwards with the goal of reintroducing long-distance service between Chemnitz and Rostock via Leipzig by 2023. The catch behind this rehabilitation project is that no additional track will be laid, hence it will be a one-track viaduct where all trains will be required to cross at 80 km/h. This has mainly to do with its proximate location to the railroad freight yard on the east bank of the river near Hilbersdorf, as well as the Central Train Station, which is 1.5 kilometers from the twin viaducts.  The taller of the two viaducts will remain untouched during the whole project, even though it may be the focus of a future project down the road.

Currently, only regional trains are using the viaduct as commuters travel between Leipzig and Chemnitz on a daily basis. Yet with the Bahn’s plan to have Inter-City trains travel this route, time is of the essence to have the crossing ready before the end of the year, so that electrification can begin in 2020. Commuters will have bus services between Chemnitz Central Station and Chemnitz Küchwald during the period of the entire closure of the bridge.

With three viaducts scheduled to be rehabilitated- two of them as part of projects to reintroduce Inter-City trains to Chemnitz for the first time in over two decades, the City of Chemnitz is going to have a good look at the newly restored bridges once the projects end. Residents will still get to keep their prized achitectural works while travelers will become attracted to a little bit of history as they pass through Chemnitz, one historic bridge at a time. For a city in transition to modernity, it is important to keep a little bit of its history and heritage for the guests to visit and learn about.

More on the projects will come as crews prepare to commence on the rehabilitation projects.

 

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Liebschwitz Viaduct to Be Demolished

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Photos taken during a bike tour in May 2010

Bridge Removal in connection with the Abandonment of the Railroad Line between Gera and Wünschendorf via Liebschwitz. Current route to be detoured through Gera-Zwötzen

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GERA (THURINGIA), GERMANY-  It spanned the White Elster River on a rail line dating back to 1875. A historic icon for an former East German city that had once thrived on the textile and mining industries. Now, after 124 years in service, the Liebschwitz Viaduct, located in the south of Gera at the streets of Zoitz and Salzstrasse is being taken down. The Baltimore petit deck truss with Warren truss and deck girder spans is 226 meters long and had a total of eleven spans. The main spans over the White Elster and Salzstrasse featured a curve, which because of its one track limit, trains had to cross at slow speeds. According to information from the local newspaper OTZ, based in Gera, the bridge was opened to traffic on 1 December, 1892, serving the line between the suburb of Liebschwitz and the village of Wünschendorf, located 10 kilometers to the south of Gera. The bridge used to be a two-track crossing before the Soviets forced the local government to dismantle one of the tracks as part of the reparation costs associated with World War II. This practice occurred often in the Soviet-occupied zone, which became East Germany (German Democratic Republic) and resulted in one-track lines in many parts of the country.  Thanks to little maintenance on the bridge, the structure, which had bolted and riveted connections, deteriorated bit-by-bit to a point where trains were traveling at a maximum speed of only 20 km/h by 2002.

 

By 2006, officials from the German Railways and the City of Gera were working on a plan to rehabilitate the bridge so that its lifespan would be expanded and it could better accomodate train servic between Gera and Plauen via Greiz. However, the cost of 10 million Euros ($12 million) to renovate the bridge proved to be too exorbitant. End result: rerouting the line through Gera-Zwötzen enroute to Wünschendorf, which included two-tracking theline, rehabilitating and reviving the Elster Crossing at the Zwötzen station, and abandoning the rail line, which includes decommisioning the stations Gera East and Gera Liebschwitz. The new route has just recently opened to traffic and officials at the German Railways just recently celebrated the decommissioning of the viaduct and the old line with vintage trains using them for the last time on 21 October. From December 14th onwards, all trains between Plauen and Gera will use the new route via Zwötzen. This includes Regional Express trains which will provide services to Hof, Saalfeld, Erfurt  and Leipzig from Gera, respectively. Beginning in 2017, the tracks along the Liebschwitz line will be ripped out, and the viaduct, with its 124-year history, will become history at the hands of the wrecking crew. There has been no interested parties who have stepped up to take the viaduct, yet given its location, lack of interest on the part of the locals and the German Railways’ track record with historic bridges, chances are likely the bridge will disappear from the scene quietly. And with that, a 140-year history with a small piece of history.

A map with the location of the bridge and the new detoured rail line can be found here:

Additional pics can be found here:

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Deck girder south approaches
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Main spans over the White Elster
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line. As part of the plan to two-track the line, this bridge will be reactivated.
Railroad bridge at the train station Gera-Zwötzen, serving the Gera-Triptis-Saalfeld line, but now also the Gera-Greiz-Plauen line. As part of the plan to two-track the line, this bridge will be reactivated.

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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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The Bridges of Glauchau (Saxony), Germany

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There is a philosophy pertaining to visiting a town that makes tourism unique and interesting: Always look for the most uncommon and unvisited places first before visiting the main attractions. They have the most valuable information and features that will make you leave town knowing a bit more than before.

Glauchau, located in western Saxony approximately 20 kilometers west of Chemnitz and 13 kilometers north of neighboring Zwickau is a typical farming community. Yet despite having 23,000 residents, the community, which has a historic city center and two castles, is known for its serenity, as there is not much activity directly in the city, but more in the areas full of green, thanks to its parks, the Glauchau Reservoir and the green areas along the Zwickauer Mulde River. Here’s a sample of what a person can see while spending time in this quiet community:

And while I was there for an interview for a teaching position at an international school, I was reminded of the philosophy mentioned at the beginning, when it came to relics of the past. While the community was once a pub for the textile industry, it also has a set of historic bridges that are worth visiting. One of which was a viaduct spanning a street and valley, which provided a spectacular view of the northwestern end of Glauchau. Once crossing that enroute to the interview and realizing that I had a long waiting time to catch the returning train to Jena in Thuringia, it became my mission to see what other bridges are worth the visit. And sure enough, enough diamonds in the rough were discovered, which were enough to justify constructing a tour guide showing the readers where these bridges can be found and thus encouraging people to visit them in addition to the town’s historic city center. A map and link to a gallery of photos can be found at the end of the article.

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Lungwitzbach Railroad Viaducts:

When arriving at Glauchau Railway Station from Dresden and Chemnitz, this bridge pairing will greet you, as you cross Lungwitzsbach Creek and the parallel street leading to St. Egedien. Both structures are at least a century old, but each one having a different design and built using different materials. The sandy grey structure with dark brown arches is the most heavily traveled and also the oldest of the two, having been built in the 1860s and is part of the magistrate connecting Dresden with Zwickau and Hof. The bridge has seven arches and and each spandrel is partially closed, for half-circle openings appear, one on each end of the arch. The bridge appears to have been rehabilitated between five and ten years ago, with the line being electrified and the bridge strengthened to provide more trains along the line. One can see the work with the concrete shelves sticking out between the arches, where each overhead pole sits.

The sandy brown colored bridge next to it features a three-span open spandrel arch bridge, totaling three spans. The spandrels have an arch top- for each arch span, there are three spandrels on each side. That structure only serves freight traffic although it had previously served a railway line along the Zwickauer Mulde, connecting Penig, Rochlitz and Grimma. Both bridges are about 200 meters long and have two tracks each. It is unknown who was behind the design and construction of the two bridges, but they are considered the longest in Glauchau and ones that are a must-see when spending time there.

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Am Schafteich Railroad Bridge:

Spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River, this bridge is the nearest of the two arch bridges to greet passengers when entering Glauchau Railway Station from the west (Erfurt, Meerane and Zwickau). This bridge is the gateway to the industrial park, where automobile parts are produced for Volkswagen, whose production facility is located between Glauchau and Zwickau. The structure features three closed spandrel arch spans, the longest (which spans the river) is built using limestone and is about 80 meters. The side arches are built using sandstone and limestone, thus creating a unique color and pattern combination. Each of the spans are about 30 meters, one of which crosses the street. The bridge is the most difficult to photograph because three fourths of the structure is on private property and is fenced off. The last fourth features trees, tall bushes and no sidewalk, thus the risk is great when photographing the structure, as you can see in the pics. The bridge is at least 120 years old but serves the magistrate between Dresden and Hof via Zwickau but also the line between Erfurt and Glauchau. This line is part of the planned Mitteldeutschland Route, connecting Chemnitz with Cologne via Erfurt, Kassel and Gera. It is expected that InterCity trains will start serving the line by 2023, thus making Glauchau a train stop for long-distance trains for the first time since 2006.

 

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King Albert Bridge before its replacement in 1955. Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

King Albert Bridge (a.k.a. Lower Mulde Bridge)

 When traveling west on Auer Strasse in the direction of Gesau, you will not recognize the bridge after you cross it, going past the beverage store Getränkewelt on the left side. If anything, it is just a typical beam bridge with railings, that’s all. You will also not recognize its historic appearance unless you do one of the following:

1. Pull into the parking lot of the beverage store, go into the Mulde, swim underneath the bridge and get a shot on the opposite end (as the front side has another bridge carrying a pipeline over it.

or

  1. Cross the street onto the flower bed of a nearby proprietor, walk the line along the curb bordering the flower bed (without stepping into it) and get an oblique shot from the building.

Being dressed in a suit with no SCUBA equipment for a special occasion, I elected the second option, even though it would have been funny and interesting to try the first option.

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But the photo opportunity is well worth it.

The current structure, built in 1955, is a single-span stone arch bridge, carrying a concrete decking. Given the scarcity of materials needed for bridge building because of the after-effects of World War II combined with the Soviet occupation of the eastern half of Germany, many of the new structures were constructed using concrete and/or with minimal quality and using either beam or truss structures. This bridge was probably built using stone bricks that originated from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and was cut on site to fit the structure that is 35 meters long and 25 meters wide.

Its predecessor however consisted of a Parker through truss bridge built in 1888 and was, according to local historical accounts,  one of a few Glauchau bridges built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich.  The bridge featured riveted connections among the trusses, v-lacing on its overhead bracing and upper chords and a vertical endposts. Also included were ornametal lampposts on both ends of the bridge, featuring spirals and spherical shapes with an oval-shaped glass cover for lighting.

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Postcard of the bridge before World War II. Courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

The bridge’s original wood decking was replaced in 1927 with a combination of concrete and brick to accommodate increasing traffic loads. 11 years later,  a new coating of paint was needed, which kept the bridge from rusting and thus prolonging its lifespan.  Sadly, even though the bridge survived two World Wars, it was closed to traffic in 1954 because of rust and corrosion on the trusses, including the lower chord. At the same time,  plans for a new bridge commenced, which was realized one year later.

The King Albert Bridge, named after the King of Saxony who was also the member of the House of Wettin, may be just a typical bridge for the City of Glauchau, yet never judge it by its appearance just by crossing it. The treasure can be found in the water, whose historic value will make the writer and historian think twice before writing it off as a typical piece of concrete over a body of water.

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Gründelteich Bridge and Statue

Located at the southeast end of Gründelteich pond near the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this bridge has been in service since the 1880s as it served as the lone access to the island. The history behind the island is that it was named in honor of Heinrich Carl Hedrich (1816-1900), who spent most of his life in Glauchau and left a mark in the city’s history. Hedrich was responsible for the rechanneling of the (Zwickauer) Mulde while reconstructing the dam that had been destroyed by flooding in 1839. Furthermore, he invented Germany’s  first modern water main system running through the community, providing drinking water to the households, while also channeling water away from the Zwickauer Mulde. In addition to the construction of the mills and dams, Hedrich harnessed electricity through hydroelectric power. The people in Glauchau benefitted from his inventions, and Hedrich was awarded with a head statue and an monument with a golden angel in 1884, about the same time this bridge was built. The decking, railings and piers appear to be at least 45 years old, yet the design of the bridge is the same as the original built in 1884.

 

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Upper Mulde Bridge- the replacement bridge (left) and the original bridge with ornamental railings on the right side. Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

Meeraner Strasse (Upper Mulder ) Bridge

 The Meerane Strasse is one of two major streets that have bridges crossing the Mulde River and its diversion arm (Flutgraben). This bridge is located at the junction with Lindenstrasse and by first glance, one will see a typical 90s style concrete deck girder with vertical lining and orange railings. A rather bland structure unless you have a quick blick at the abutments of an older bridge on the right hand side going west towards the Flutgraben crossing. That bridge had a history of its own as it was a steel pony girder bridge with Town Lattice truss features. Ithel Town created this unique truss design in 1820 that consisted of interwoven diagonal beams. This truss type was common on many wooden covered bridges in the United States, but also among many metal truss bridges in Europe, especially those carrying rail traffic.

The Meerane Bridge was constructed back in the 1880s and was claimed by historic resources to have been built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich. Yet the exact date of construction remains unknown. It is known that the structure, which was about 35 meters long and 15 meters wide, was replaced at the time of the Fall of the Berlin Wall because of age and structural deterioration. A concrete bridge was built alongside the old structure, thus allowing for the continuation of traffic between Glauchau and Meerane on the old one. After traffic was diverted onto the new structure, the old one was removed and scrapped.

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THE THREE BRIDGES TO THE “HOLY LAND”

 While Glauchau has eight bridges and a dam spanning the Mulde and its diversion canal Flutgraben, one unique feature that makes the city special are the bridges on the hill leading to its historic city center and castles. Dubbed as the Bridges to the Holy Land, each of the three spans consist of arch bridges crossing deep gorges that serve as drainage to the Mulde. Each of the gorges are approximately 20-25 meters deep. From the flood bed of the Mulde, the height of the bridges is approximately 75 meters high, and given the fact that Glauchau was once a walled city and it has a strong religious core- laden with a variety of denominations- one could christen the name of the bridges along Otto-Schimmel-Strasse and Leipziger Strasse  between the train station and the castles “The Three Bridges to the Holy Land,” named after the Three Wise Men who brought Baby Jesus gifts and blessed Him on what it today called Day of Epiphany (January 6th). Yet that interpretation would be a bit far-fetched if one is either a non-denominational or an atheist.

Even though one of the arch bridges no longer exists (Nicolas Tower and Bridge), all three bridges still serve it purpose of serving traffic and providing commerce to the city center. We will look at all three bridges going towards that “Holy Land”, beginning with the youngest and longest of the three.

 

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Scherberg Bridge

Spanning Talstrasse at Otto-Schimmel-Strasse  and Leipziger Strasse, the Scherberg Bridge is a cross between modernitity and history as the 1920s structure features a concrete closed spandrel Luten arch main span and two circular mini-spans implanted in the wingwall on each side. Furthermore, Art Greco patterns can be seen in the main arch span. A shield representing the City of Glauchau can be seen on the east end on the right of the main arch span. Construction started in 1921, and despite two harsh winters, combined with a lack of personnel and high inflation upping the cost for the bridge because of the aftereffects of World War I and the Marseilles Treaty respectively, the bridge was dedicated on 29 April, 1923. The bridge was deemed a necessity because of the need to connect the city center and the train station, which was completed three years after the bridge opened. Prior to the bridge, accessing the city center was as difficult as Moses climbing the Mountain to meet God and receive the 10 Commandments. Delivery with horse and buggy had to be made by zigzagging up several streets and dealing with gorges and other obstacles. The plan for the bridge had been created in 1909 but work never commenced because of the war, plus hefty discussions regarding the necessity of the bridge. Despite all the aforemetioned adversities affecting Glauchau, the city mayor Otto Schimmel had the final word in favor of the bridge, which has a total length of 97 meters  (the main span is 35 meters), 14 meters wide and 28 feet above Talstrasse.  The bridge was rehabilitated in 2011, which included repairs to the structure, new decking and lighting and new paint- especially with the shield. The bridge may look just like new, but the 94-year old structure is one of the symbols that represent the city of Glauchau.  The Scherberg Bridge serves as a posterboy for other arch bridges of this caliber that exist in the US and elsewhere, many of which are in danger of being demolished and replaced.

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Gottessackbrücke (a.k.a. Postbrücke)

The next bridge along the Road to the Holy Land is the Postbrücke. Spanning another gorge (which is accompanied with a path down to the residential area) carrying Leipziger Strasse, this masonry stone arch bridge is the shortest of the three bridges, having a span of 15 meters and a width of 12 meters. Built in 1887, it is located next to the historic post office, which had existed much longer than the bridge itself. Apart from some minor structural work on the bridge, the Postbrücke has maintained its historic integrity, while serving traffic between the city center and the district of Gottessack (God’s Sack), north of the structure. The area features several historic, but empty buildings that are ripe for restoration and reuse, making Glauchau even better than it is now.

 

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Nicolas Tower and Bridge

 The last bridge going to the city center is the Nicolas Tower and Bridge. While no date has been pinpointed to the bridge, it was believed to have been just as old as the tower itself. The Nicolas Tower served as the main entrance to the city center, which had once been walled on all sides, with watch towers and the castles that were included. It is safe to say that the entrance to the walled town was through the Hintere Schlossbrücke on the south side (still extant) and the Nicolas Tower and Bridge on the north side. While the tower may have been built during the Medieval era as part of the project to make Glauchau a walled city, records indicated that the tower was rebuilt from the ground up in 1741. It featured a living quarters above the gate, where the watchman and his family lived, and was later decorated with a church bell by the Lord Albert Christian Ernst in 1758. A clock was later added to the gate. Because of its narrowness combined with the increase in traffic and damage caused by lightning and high winds, the tower was replaced in 1890, but the bridge itself remained in service until 1965. A mural depicting the tower can be seen at the site where it once stood as you cross the bridge, yet a mini-replica can be found in the city museum.

 

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Remains of the watch tower and the walls of the historic city on the northwest corner (JS)

The Nicolas Bridge featured two different arch bridges- one made of concrete and one made of brick, whereas the former may date back to the time of the castle and the brick span was later added in the early 1800s. The bridge also featured a series of steps to encourage people walking along the path along the creek to use it to go to the bridge and the city center.  Sadly, due to structural damage caused by bombings in World War II and later deterioration because of the increase in automobile traffic, the bridges had to be demolished in 1965. The older arch was first removed, followed by the other arch as soon as the replacement structure was in place and opened to traffic.  It is hard to believe that, despite looking like a bridge built in the 1990s, today’s structure is 52 years old. But part of that was because of the rehabilitation work done in 2003-4 to keep the 33.3 meter long bridge open to traffic. Its width of 19.6 meters include 6.1 meters for pedestrians, and its height of 9 meters above the gorge provides viewers with a glimpse of the gorge and the valley of the Mulde, filled with houses and green landscape. The bridge provides good commerce as many stores line up along the street between the bridge and the Postbrücke, but also towards the city center.

 

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Waldenburger Viaduct

The Waldenburger Viaduct is one of three stone arch viaducts serving the rail lines passing through Glauchau. All of them appear to have been built in the 1860s as the rail lines between Glauchau and Werdau were established. This bridge features three arch spans- the center for vehicular traffic, the outer for the cyclists and pedestrians. With the renewed electrification of the line in the early 2000s, this bridge was renovated as part of the plan to reintroduce InterCity trains between Chemnitz and Cologne via Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. By 2023, InterCity trains are expected to stop in Glauchau from Hof (South), Dresden (East) and Cologne (West). Until then, passengers have only the regional trains connecting the town with Meerane, Gößnitz and Gera to the west as well as those going to Zwickau and Aue to the south and those going to Chemnitz and Dresden to the east, to contend with. But subtracting that, the bridge is one of the nicer structures to visit while in Glauchau but one that stands out in the face of buildings that are victims of either neglect or modernization. If one can detect this bridge early, it is not a miss. Otherwise, it is drowned out by these factors.

 

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Zimmerstrasse Covered Bridge:

Located behind the Wehrdigtschule, this bridge is an easy miss if one goes past it along Lindenstrasse. But its history dates back to the 19th century, when the establishment of factories and residential areas to the west of town necessitated the need for crossings over the Mulde. This crossing was one of four that were built under the direction of Hedrich (the same person responsible for the modern water main lines, mills and the dam), but six additional ones were built after the turn of the century. While the original crossing was most likely destroyed in World War II, this bridge took its place many years later. Between 15 and 25 years old, this wooden Pratt truss bridge is quite modern for a covered bridge but one that gives the nearby schools at Wehrdigt and the Saxony International Elementary School some charm, especially as children and teachers can utilize this crossing for safety and receational purposes.

This bridge was the lone structure I could not find during my first trip through Glauchau, but I recently visited the bridge in September during a tour to Zwickau and found some details worth noting: The bridge is made of wood but with steel bracing, and the connections are pin-connected, some of which featured steel gusset plates embedded into the wooden beams and then bolted with steel, as you can see in the picture above. One cannot see that with other covered bridges unless it’s modern, thus supporting my previous argument of its age. In either case, the bridge is heavily used, especially by school children. 🙂

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Hirschgrund Viaduct at the Castle Complex

Hirschgrund Viaduct:

Located at the southern entrance to the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this five-span concrete and stone arch bridge spans a deep valley and judging by the appearance, is perhaps the oldest bridge in Glauchau, having been built at the same time as the castle itself in the 17th Century. The structure was needed to provide passage into and out of the castle, while the valley floor used to be a moat, used to keep intruders from attacking the castle from the outside. Today’s bridge serves pedestrians, but given its appearance, it would cause an American bridge builder to sound off the alarm regarding structural deficiencies, calling for the demolition and replacement with something resembling a bridge at Walt Disney World in Florida. Fortunately, engineers recognize the bridge’s importance and have been working to stabilize the structure, while at the same time, maintain its original form. However, planning is in the works to rehabilitate and restore the bridge to its original form, which is scheduled to start in July 2018 and expected to take 1-2 years to complete. After 40 years of neglect, the bridge will be reopened again, connecting the castle complex with the park.

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Fordere Glauchau Castle Bridges

Fordere and Hintere Glauchau Castle Bridges:

There are as many bridges at the Castle Complex in Glauchau as the number of castles itself. If counting the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a total of six bridges serve the the two castles that are jointly connected. There are two stone arch bridges that are part of the original Fordere Castle that was built in 1470 and is still considered the oldest Rennaissance castle in the region. Not much has been written about the castle’s history except for the fact that there were three periods of construction involving this Baroque-style castle: between 1470 and 1485, between 1520 and 1534 and in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Hintere Castle was constructed in the 16th Century, and with that, there are three bridges- two connecting the two castles and one connecting the castle with the inner courtyard.  The viaduct connected the castle complex and the park and was built last, having been completed in the 17th Century. All in all, the crossings served their purpose of allowing people to enter and exit the castles without having to worry about drawbridges over moats or even trying to ford the crossing. The crossings at Fordere Castle are only 20 meters apart, still though, they also serve as a good observation deck, where one can see much of Glauchau and its landscape as far as the eye can see. As the castles and the city center are on a high hill, that serves as a big advantage for tourists and photographers alike. 🙂 The crossings at Hintere Castle are inter-connected with the one to the courtyard being 25 meters away from the two enclosed ones, yet the latter provides a good view of the viaduct and the park. 🙂 The Castle Complex is still open for tourists and hosts several events, however changes are being made to make the complex more attractive. And with that the bridges will continue to serve the castle, just like in the Baroque Times.

Hintere Glauchau Bridges:

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Flutgraben Crossings:

Also noteworthy of the tour in Glauchau are the crossings along the Flutgraben. The diversion canal bypasses the city on the west side, extending from the north end east of Jerisau Bridge down south to the Glauchau Reservoir, a distance of six river kilometers. And while there are four crossings that are either as long or longer than the Scherberg Bridge, there is a sad history that is in connection with the Flutgraben. On 31 July, 1858, high water from the Mulde devastated much of the residential areas in Glauchau, causing enough damage to make the houses and apartments unliveable. It was afterwards that the city decided to construct a diversion canal, bypassing Glauchau to the west to alleviate the flow of water in the event of the flooding. Construction lasted until 1890 but not before having removed as many as seven dozen houses, buildings and other properties- many of them were empty or unliveable. The width of the canal is the same as the river itself, yet the flood plain is four times as wide as the canal, and with a depth of 3-4 meters, it would accomodate unusually high flows of water.

Four bridges span the Flutgraben, including the railroad bridge that carries both the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate and the Glauchau-Jena-Erfurt rail line. The Nordufer Bridge at Auer Strasse is the oldest remaining bridge along the canal, while the Meerane and Jerisau Bridges were built in the late 1990s and still accomodate major traffic in and out of Glauchau. Additionally, a dam at the Reservoir, dating back to the 1930s is still in use to control the flow of water from the Mulde. Here is a brief summary of each one:

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Nordufer Bridge

Nordufer Bridge:

At over 200 meters spanning the outer channel of the Mulde, the Nordufer Bridge is the oldest of the existing bridges along this channel. As a key link to Zwickau, it is also the busiest as 30 vehicles cross the bridge per minute. The 50+ year old bridge, which is characterized by its expansion and contracting rollers, has shown significant signs of wear and tear with cracks and spalling appearing on the girder spans. It is likely, given its approximate location near the industrial area and the Saxony International School, it will be replaced in the next decade. The structure carries Hwy. 175 which connects Glauchau with Zwickau.

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Expansion Device: The Roller

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Meerane Bridge

Meerane Bridge:

Located over the Flutgraben at the junction of Meeraner Strasse and Sachsenallee, this bridge was one of the first to have been built at this location after the diversion canal was built. After the Flood of 1858, the city council decided to construct the canal to divert water away from Glauchau, despite successful attempts by Heinrich Hedrich to construct the first drainage system in Germany serving the city. A wooden bridge was built to cross the area where the canal was being built, yet was replaced with a steel trestle at the conclusion of the canal project in 1890. The bridge featured a Bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge divided into three spans. That bridge was later replaced with a concrete girder bridge in 1949, which was later replaced with its current structure some 50 years later. The cantilever deck bridge continues to serve traffic to Gesau and Meerane to the west and is located next to the sports complex where the soccer team Empor Glauchau has its headquarters.  The bridge used to be called the Orphanage Bridge as there was an orphanage located near the site where the diversion canal was located. Built in 1859, the facility housed orphans for 150 years.

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Jerisau Bridge

Jerisau Bridge:

Spanning the Flutgraben at the junction of Waldeburger Strasse and Hochuferstrasse (B-175 Bypass), this bridge connects Glauchau’s northern industrial district with the suburb Jerisau. Before the bypass was built, the bridge carried Highway B-175 through Jerisau enroute to Waldenburg, seven kilometers northeast of Glauchau. The Bypass was built to alleviate traffic and to provide better access to the Autobahn 4. The present bridge, a concrete cantilever span, was built in 1998, with a length of 97 meters- 15 more than its predecessor, a five-span concrete beam bridge built in 1949. This bridge may have followed the footsteps of the Meerane Bridge in terms of the types of bridges that had been built and replaced since the diversion canal was built in 1890.

 

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Leitschutzdamm

Leitschutzdamm at Glauchau Reservoir:

Located near the Glauchau Reservoir, this dam was built for the purpose of rechanneling the Mulde in the event of flooding. That means all excessive water flow through the dam and along the outer channel, alleviating the flow of water along the main river going through town without flooding it. Despite being built in the 1980s, sources indicated that a previous dam was built in the early 1930s, possibly replacing an even earlier one.  When water is diverted towards the town, one can see some unique patters in the channel bed when little water is flowing, as seen in the pic below. The dam acts as a crossing, enabling cyclists and pedestrians to go in the direction of the southern countryside.

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South Dam and Bridge

South Dam and Bridge:

Located over the Mulde at Wehrstrasse, west of Grundelteich, this bridge is one of the oldest in Glauchau, having been built in the late 1890s. This is recognizable with the cast iron railings and its approximate location to the mill and an unusual water silo. It is possible that this bridge was one of four built by Hedrich, but more information is needed to confirm these claims.

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Close-up of the cast iron railings

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The Wave (Wernsdorfer Welle):

This bridge, spanning the Mulde in the southern suburb of Wernsdorf, was one that was completely missed while on tour. The reason: Upon arrival at the crossing, I found the bridge to not exist anymore. I later found out in my research that the bridge had been removed due to structural concerns. In addition, as the region was prone to flooding, dikes needed to be reinforced to keep the waters of the Mulde from flooding the corn fields.  Prior to its demise, the Chemnitz Free Press wrote a eulogy about the structure and its time as a crossing, which can be summarized as follows:

The bridge was built in 1954 to replace a wooden bridge that had been washed away by flooding. It was a simple beam bridge of six spans, built of concrete and steel, and had once been used as main traffic between the village of Wernsdorf and all points going to the south and west. After sustaining damage by  the flooding in 2013, the structure was closed to all traffic, and officials in Wernsdorf and Glauchau worked on a plan to replace the bridge as it served as a vital link, not just for cyclists and locals, but also for farmers. After the plan for a new bridge had been unveiled, the old structure was demolished in April 2016. Despite delays in finishing the project, due to unfavorable weather conditions and the construction of a new bike path connecting the structure with the sports complex, the bridge was dedicated to recreational traffic on 20 June, 2017. Currently, The Wave serves bikers, equestrians and walkers and is part of the Mulde Bike Trail network again, re-establishing a link between Glauchau, Wernsdorf and neighboring villages to the south.

Photos:

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Film:

 

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As one can see in the pics, the philosophy holds true regarding historic places in a community. Glauchau may be considered a ghost town with little or no activity, a town with two castles and a well-networked school system educating people from different nationalities, a farming community, and one laden with places of Christianity. However, in my visit, I found out by chance that the town is laden with diamonds in the rough as far as history is concerned. No one (on the outside) knew about Heinrich Carl Hedrich’s contributions until my visit, let alone the bridges with either a vast amount of documented history or a potential of finding some history about them. Sometimes it takes some tours with the bike and a good camera to find out the sides of a community that no one knew about. With Glauchau, there was more to know about the town than before, and when viewing these bridges, perhaps others will be willing to contribute to the history of the community in western Saxony. 🙂

For more on the places visited in Glauchau, there are a couple useful links that are of use:

Map of Glauchau and the Bridges:

Gallery of Photos of the Places in Glauchau, which you can see here: 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1149254905105157.1073741854.100000619742271&type=1&l=61ee592055

 

Glauchau’s Christmas Market courtesy of The Flensburg Files:

https://flensburgerfiles.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/2016-christmas-market-tour-glauchau-saxony/

 

The author would like to thank the City of Glauchau and its office of planning, Ulrich Schleife and the crew at Glauchau-City for their contribution to this tour guide. Without your help, we would not have found out more about the city’s bridges than what I discovered as a photographer and pontist. May God bless you for your help.  🙂

 

Historic Railroad Bridges in Jena to Receive Makeover

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Railroad Underpass at Muehlenstrasse. Unlike the candidates, this three-bridge underpass will be spared. Photo taken in November 2014

JENA- Located in the eastern part of the German state of Thuringia, between Erfurt and Leipzig, the city of Jena has 105,000 inhabitants- 20% of which are students of the city’s two universities- and is the birthplace of the optical industry with Carl Zeiss, Ernst Abbe and Otto Schott leading the way more than 100 years ago. Yet the city, which is home to three profi soccer and a profi basketball team, has a major problem it is contending with- severe traffic congestion!

Cause?

The city, located square in the Saale River Valley is dependent on two major railways and two key highways and thanks to the plans by the German Railway, travellers, commuters and drivers will experience hell on wheels live beginning in April, for one of the rail-lines- a key commuter line- will be shut down for five months. And two bridges over key streets will be replaced, thus resulting in them being closed to all traffic- each of which has a key bus or street car line connecting Jena’s city center with its southern and western suburbs!  The city government as well as the German and Erfurt Railway services are bracing for the worst, while residents are scrambling for alternatives to survive the worst construction season Jena has ever witnessed since the end of World War II. The story behind it?

Simple.

Between the railway stations Jena-Göschwitz and Weimar, the entire line will be shut down beginning 2 April and lasting until 3 September for the rail lines are expanding to two tracks instead of its original one track line which had existed between Gera and Weimar. This includes the replacement of two historic but key bridges in Jena: the Kahlaische Strasse Underpass in Winzerla and the underpass at Magdelstieg just north of the train station, Jena-West, which will also be reconstructed during the total closure. It is part of the long-term plan to electrify the line and re-introduce long-distance train service connecting Cologne and Dresden via Jena, Gera and Chemnitz, a project that is scheduled to be finished by 2030. Already an Inter-City train is serving Jena and Cologne, but more are expected once the project is finished in September.  Jena is expected to lose two of its five bridges in the progress. Two of the three spared structures- the crossing at Katharina Strasse and one at Muehlenstrasse originate from 1848, when the line was originally established. Another was rebuilt in 1994, when the Berlin-Nuremberg-Munich line was being electrified for ICE-Train services, which was introduced a year later. The ICE trains are currently being rerouted through Erfurt, Fulda and Wurzburg, while the line through Jena will experience regional trains running every 15 minutes counting the ones to Weimar via Grossheringen beginning 2 April.

The two historic bridges coming down include the following:

 

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Kahlische Strasse Underpass- Located in the Ringwiese District in the suburb of Winzerla, the bridge once featured two arches when constructed in 1935- during the age of the Third Reich: one over the street and one over the sidewalk. As part of the plan to expand the streetcar line in 1968, the arch span over the street was replaced, while the pedestrian part was spared. Since the end of 2014, work has commenced on a replacement bridge which, once the entire bridge is demolished and the railroad grade is raised, will be slid into place. This is needed because the current structure does not fulfill the needs of the rail service that is expected to have more trains in service beginning in September. The vertical clearance for both the 1968 and 1935 spans also do not meet today’s traffic standards, especially for cyclists using the 1935 span. Therefore, the plan is to shut down the entire street, which includes the street car line connecting Winzerla with the city center, tear up the street, tear down the underpass and slide in the new bridge before rebuilding the street and tram line and reopening that portion by August of this year. Remnants of the totalitarian style bridge will be a thing of the past.

Westbahnhofstrasse Bridge  Photo taken in November 2014
Westbahnhofstrasse Bridge Photo taken in November 2014

The Bridge at Westbahnhofstrasse- Spanning Magdelstieg near Jena-West Railway Station, this bridge is the more ornamental of the five bridges along the East-West Railway line as the structure features a coat of arms on the steel piers as well as cylinder finials and steel railings with del greco patterns. Yet the bridge’s days may be numbered come July. It is unknown what will become of the structure, but word has it that at least the decking of the bridge will be reconstructed, which means the finials and the railings will most likely disappear. The future of the steel piers remain uncertain. As for Magdelstieg itself, the street will be shut down for the second time in three years, except for pedestrians and cyclists, meaning the key bus line between the University of Applied Science and Beutenberg Campus as well as the city center will not have service for two months at least.

 

The end result of this massive construction will be all train traffic being diverted to the north-south line with trains stopping at Jena-Paradies every 15-20 minutes, yet its main artery going into Jena, Stadtrodaer Strasse will experience traffic jams up to 10 kilometers long throughout the whole summer until the East-West rail line reopens, as with the streets connecting Winzerla, Beutenberg Campus and the city center. Given its wide networks of bike trails in the area that will mostly be spared any disturbances, it is highly recommended when visiting Jena this summer to consider entering from any points except Winzerla, carpooling with others or even rent a bike from the bike shops serving the city center as well as Jena-Ost to alleviate the congestion which will bring the city to a crawl. This summer will be the biggest challenge to the nerves of every commuter and traveller alike, but the bright side: it’s only once in a lifetime. Normalcy will return to Jena come this fall for everyone, student, worker and resident alike.

And even for this writer who will keep you posted on the latest and provide a tour of the bridges of Jena once the project is finished. Stay tuned.

 

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Ship rams transport ferry at Rendsburg High Bridge

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

Substantial Damage to the Ferry; Two people injured

RENDSBURG, GERMANY-  A key crossing in Schleswig-Holstein spanning a key waterway between the Baltic and North Seas came to a standstill this morning, as a ship heading westward along the Baltic-North Sea Canal slammed into the transporter ferry of the Rendsburg High Bridge. The incident occurred at 6:39am Berlin time, where a large ship did not stop for the ferry in time, causing a collision. A video shown below sees how the ferry swung like a pendulum after the ship hit it and moved on.

Two people- the operator and a passenger were injured in the collision, the former was transported to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, according to SHZ News. The bridge and canal were both closed down to traffic and will remain closed until further notice. According to the Deutsche Bahn, the railroad line connecting Flensburg and Hamburg, which crosses the cantilever truss part of the bridge has been closed down until bridge inspectors can determine how the collision affected the bridge decking, how much damage was caused, and when the bridge can reopen. The line carries regional and international train services going through Flensburg to Denmark.  The passengers heading north are asked to go through Kiel from Neumünster enroute to Flensburg, as well as in the opposite direction. Because the ferry was misaligned, construction crews, according to reports by Radio Schleswig-Holstein (RSH),  will need to realign it before moving it to the north shore of the canal. The ferry has substantial damage to the housing and truss structure, as seen by the photos. It is unknown when the canal will be reopened and when the ferry will be operational again. The ferry was the key link between Rendsburg and the southern suburb of Alsdorf. A detour is being planned until the ferry can be fixed.

The Rendsburg High Bridge is the only bridge in the world that has a bridge span serving traffic that also carries a transporter ferry. The transporter is one of only eight left in the world that is functional.  It is the second bridge behind the Hastings Spiral Bridge in Minnesota that has a loop approach span, which encircles much of Rendsburg’s neighborhood. Built by Friedrich Voss in 1913, the bridge is a national landmark and has received various awards on the national and international levels. A detailed article about the bridge can be found here along with videos of the bridge filmed by the author during his visit in 2011. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, along with sister column the Flensburg Files will keep you informed on the latest with the bridge.

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Fehmarn Bridge in Germany: At the Crossroads between Preservation and Progress

FEHMARN ISLAND, GERMANY-  Connecting Fehmarn Island with mainland Germany in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, the Fehmarn Bridge is unique in three different ways: its historic value, its touristic value to the region and lastly, its infrastructural value.

The bridge was built in 1963, using the very first bridge design conceptualized by an engineering firm in Oberhausen, in North Rhine-Westphalia: the basket-weave tied arch bridge. The arch design features two arches that meet at the center of the span above the roadway, with a network of diagonal beams supporting the arches. The concept of connecting Fehmarn Island with the rest of Germany was introduced in 1912, yet the plan was first realized when the Organization Todt began construction on a combination roadway/railway crossing in 1941, shortly after the Nazis had occupied Denmark thus enlarging its empire. The cost for the investment was 8 million Reichsmarks. The project was halted in 1942 and would not be continued until 1960, when the construction firm of C.H. Jucho, Felten & Guilleaume und Flender, restarted the project with G. Fischer, T. Jahnke und P. Stein of the company Gutehoffnungshütte Sterkrade AG of  Oberhausen-Sterkrade designing the blueprint of the bridge, and Gerd Hofmann masterminding the architectural aspect. It took three years to complete the project. Originally scheduled to open on 30 April, 1963, it had to be open to restricted traffic in January for ferry service was suspended due to a harsh winter. Crossing the bridge required a special permit for construction was not yet completed. This was lifted when the bridge opened to traffic at the end of April. The bridge has a double function of being a highway bridge and a railway bridge all in one, both serving the purpose of connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen.  The total length of the bridge is 1400 meters. 900 meters consisted of the bridge itself with the basket-handle tied arch span having a length of 350 meters. The rest of the length consists of approach spans, including an arch span over a road connecting Avendorf with Strukkamp.

Since its inception, many engineers have looked to the Fehmarn Bridge as reference, giving them some ideas on how to construct similar spans. Already planned are the new Bettendorf spans over the Mississippi River at the Quad Cities (replacing the twin suspension spans) as well as the Levansau Bridge over the Baltic-North Sea Canal near Kiel, using the basket-handle spans similar to the one at Fehmarn. The Fehmarn Bridge is one of the main attractions for tourists and one can see the bridge on any souvenir item available. Even the streets of Burg and its boroughs have houses decorated with the lighted Fehmarn Bridge emblem.  And most recently, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles introduced the bridge as part of its new logo, a measure well-received by residents of Fehmarn Island as well as in the bridge and preservation communities.

Despite this, the future of the 51-year old bridge is up in the air. Plans are in the making to widen the roadway and upgrade it to motorway status. This is part of the plan to create an industrial area on the island, the proposal that has been met with opposition from residents and people associated with the island alike. According to Karin Neumann, spokesperson for the initiative “Bewahrt Fehmarn” (English: Preserve Fehmarn), the industrial group Baltic FS, a German-based group, wants to create an industrial Areal where warehouses, a industrial storage facility and factories would be created on 15 hectares of land on the island. In addition, the motorway will feature a new tunnel connecting Fehmarn with Denmark, thus eliminating the need for ferry service between Rodby (Denmark) and Puttgarden. And finally, the German Railways (Die Bahn), with support from the German Ministry of Transportation in Berlin is working together to construct a replacement for the Fehmarn Bridge. Proposals include:

  1. Three bridges while keeping the Fehmarn Bridge- one for rail traffic, one for the motorway and one for local traffic,
  2. A tunnel for motorway and rail traffic while keeping the bridge
  3. Two bridges for rail and motorway traffic but the Fehmarn Bridge would be removed.

The options were presented in August with meetings taking place in Berlin and Oldenburg (the administrative district where Fehmarn Island belong to) in September. Despite claims by die Bahn that no one would want the bridge after it is replaced, thus justifying the need to demolish the bridge, the proposal to tear down the Fehmarn Bridge was met with a protest similar to Hurricane Katrin slamming New Orleans in 2005. Local authorities and people associated with the bridge objected to the demolition proposals forcefully, claiming that Die Bahn was short-sighted and as inconsiderate as a bully in kindergarten.  Apart from wanting to keep the bridge as a tourist attraction and key bicycle and pedestrian crossing between Fehmarn and Grossenbrode, the bridge is protected by the state preservation laws of Schleswig-Holstein as it is considered a technical historic landmark. In addition, an agreement between the states of Germany and Denmark signed at the time of the bridge’s construction stated that the connection between mainland Germany and Denmark via Fehmarn Island is to remain two lanes for automobile traffic and one track for railroad traffic. According to Neumann and other sources, the agreement would need to be replaced should both Germany and Denmark want a motorway connection. But most importantly, as Neumann stated in an interview with the Chronicles, having three bridges as well as the Areal would degrade the natural and tourist value of the island, which according to latest figures, 2.5 million tourists from Germany, Denmark and elsewhere take their vacation on the island annually, and even though the total population of the inhabitants is roughly 30,000 year round, at least triple the number are on the island in the summer time, mostly for the purpose of camping, biking, swimming and visiting the villages and historic places that have existed for over 400 years.

Given the lack of experience of Baltic FS with its plan of constructing the Areal combined with the hastiness of  Die Bahn and the German and Danish governments, the idea of the Areal, combined with the idea of additional bridges at the site of the Fehmarn Bridge has been seen in the eyes of the preservation group and the locals as poorly timed, poorly thought out and most importantly, poorly communicated between the planners and the residents, most of whom are against any proposal dealing with the Areal project as well as the replacement of the Fehmarn Bridge unless there is a tunnel variant and the historic bridge is saved. This according to sources from Bewahrt Fehmarn and other locals with knowledge of the project.

The current situation is as follows: A petition drive started this summer to halt plans for the Areal project as well as the replacement of the Fehmarn Bridge. With as many as 1800 signatures, the district of Oldenburg and the state of Schleswig-Holstein have approved a referendum, scheduled for 8 March of next year, where people will have an opportunity to vote on the Areal project. Politicians in Berlin and Kiel are working together on a solution where a tunnel would be built instead of two additional bridges and the Fehmarn Bridge would be handed over to the state or Oldenburg district, which governs Fehmarn.  Given the support for their beloved island, a vast majority of the people will most likely vote against the Areal, citing the need to preserve the island as  a place of natural interest and the fact that tourism has been the locomotive of the island’s economy. Even the majority of local businesses are against the Areal project as well, for only two have favored the district, according to Neumann. In addition, although the trend is leaning toward the tunnel solution, chances are very likely that the Fehmarn Bridge will remain in service, even beyond 2020, as many politicians are claiming that its lifespan will end.

But even if residents on Fehmarn have it their way, it will not stop the project of constructing a tunnel between Puttgarden and Rodby from getting underway at the earliest, next year, replacing the ferry service. This has put pressure on the parties involved regarding how to find a solution to the problem with the Fehmarn Bridge. Yet chances are likely that if all is approved in favor of the locals, then the Fehmarn Bridge will have new life as a local and bike crossing, with the tunnel variant taking over main traffic. That would be a blessing for many who cherish their beloved structure, whose history dates far back, and whose design is the pioneer of the bridge type that is still being used to this day.

Check out the photos of the Fehmarn Bridge on the Chronicles’ facebook page, which you can find here.

If you want to know more about how you can help save the Fehmarn Bridge and stop the Areal Project, check out the Bewahrt Fehmarn page, which you can click on here for more details. Special thanks to Karin Neumann for providing some useful information for this write-up.