BHC Photo of the Week Nr. 114- Paying Homage to an Old Friend

This week’s Pic of the Week pays homage to an old friend. When I first visited the Lindaunis Schlei Bridge in 2011, I was with the bike. The combination Schaper through truss bridge with a bascule span, which was built in 1927, was in an open position, with boats going underneath the structure. I only was able to get the southern end of the bridge and could not get much of the inside portion of the truss span because of the long line of cars wanting to cross enroute to Flensburg. As this bridge has a combination steel road decking and railroad tracks, one could not afford to lose attention to the road, without losing control of the bike and falling, while risking an accident with a line of cars.  Despite this, I had a chance to get some shots and filmed the structure as the draw span was lowering. You can have a look at the bridge’s history by clicking here.

Fast forward to 2020. There were many reasons for revisiting the bridge, but there were two that stuck out as the key factors in making that decision. The first was after having traveled for 11 hours on the motorway to Flensburg for vacation- seven of which were while in traffic jams, I had decided on taking the backroads home to Saxony- first by stopping in Schwerin for a day trip and then travel to the Dömitz Railroad monument the following day, while passing through Saxony-Anhalt before making it home in a total of nine hours‘ time.  The second was that this bridge is currently being replaced. The German Railways is replacing the structure with one that provides two separate draw bridge spans- one for the railroad line and one for vehicular traffic. At the time of this post, work has already started on the new bridge, which will be built alongside the old structure. That bridge will remain in service for another two years before it is eventually decommissioned and lastly, removed.  We don’t know if parts of it will be kept and used as a monument.

With those two reasons in mind, we decided to take the road last traveled.  From Flensburg, we needed only 40 minutes along the backroads, which were curvy and narrow with few chances to pull off in case of car problems.  After passing through Süderbarup we drove through Lindaunis, which was on the north side of the Schlei, before approaching the bridge.

And as you can see in the pics, it made a lasting difference. After revisiting the docks where I took my last photo in 2011, we had to wait for 20 minutes as the drawbridge span lifted. With me at the wheel, my wife took the opportunity to get some shots, both while stopping but also as we crossed the bridge when the draw span finally came down.  The results were getting the close-ups of the tender’s station and the draw spans, but also getting some tunnel shots of the bridge as we crossed it.

It was a trip worth remembering because we didn’t have to worry about traffic jams and aggressive drivers. It was a relaxing drive nonetheless and one that I cannot regret not taking because it was a road les staken. And if the bridge is to go then not without bidding farewell first.  I just hope that others will do the same, let alone come up with a plan to keep part of the span for it served the Schlei and Schleswig-Holstein well, despite the jams, the traffic lights and its narrowness.  If this was our last good-bye, then it’s one worth remembering.

Note: All but the top photo were taken by my wife Birgit. ❤ 🙂

Liebschwitz Viaduct to Be Demolished

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:

Deck girder south approaches

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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Historic Railroad Bridges in Jena to Receive Makeover

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!


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?


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:



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.

Rendsburg High Bridge Coming Down

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

France has its Millau Viaduct and the arch bridges along the Rhone and in Paris. Canada has its Lion’s Gate Bridge and the Confederate Viaduct. America has its Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges. In Germany, there is the Jungfern Bridge in Berlin, the Goltzschtal Viaduct in the Vogtland and this bridge, the Rendsburg High Bridge.
Spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal in central Schleswig-Holstein, the Rendsburg High Bridge features three parts: a cantilever truss bridge carrying a rail line connecting Hamburg and Flensburg; underneath is the transporter part, carrying cars, people and bikes across the canal at intervals, and on the northern side of the canal, there is the loop approach made of steel trestles which overshadows the city of Rendsburg. Built in 1913 by Friedrich Voss, the bridge is one of its kind in the world, with a total length of 2500 meters (8150 feet); the canal span measuring 140 meters (460 feet).
Yet this bridge became the target of outcry from residents in the city and many pontists throughout the world, as an agreement was made on Friday to tear down the entire structure and replace it with a cable-stayed bridge. While the design has not been developed yet, insiders at the German Railways Corporation Deutsche Bahn, have mentioned that the bridge is to look like the eastern half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is being constructed to replace the 1936 cantilever truss span, even as this article goes to the press.

Spiral approach of the Rendsburg High Bridge. Photo taken in April 2011

While work on restoring the entire bridge has been ongoing since 1990, the reason for the abrupt decision is that there were reports of extreme  rust and corrosion on four of the trestle spans on the Rendsburg side of the bridge, as well as the deck truss span that is located above the railway track that starts its gradual ascent to the bridge after leaving Rendsburg Railway Station. As the Deutsche Bahn recently signed an Inter-European Railway Agreement with Sweden and Denmark to introduce the Swedish SX2000 Trains, connecting Stockholm with Hamburg and Berlin, officials at the Deutsche Bahn, the Danish Railways, and the Swedish Railways have deemed the Rendsburg High Bridge incompatible to accommodate these trains going at 350 km/h.

Currently, the Danish Railways run four InterCityExpress trains in each direction between Aalborg and Berlin daily, with the Deutsche Bahn running six InterCity trains between Flensburg and areas to the south and west of Germany.  The Swedish Railways has two X2000 Trains running in each direction daily, connecting Copenhagen with Stockholm, and crossing the Oresund Bridge that links the Danish capital with Malmö.

Main span of Rendsburg High Bridge. Photo taken in April 2011

A petition has begun to stop the demolition of the bridge by as many as three different organizations, with calls for a second inspection on the bridge to be conducted by Fuchs and Lustig, a giant engineering firm located in Cologne, in North Rhein-Westphalia, being echoed throughout all of Germany. Founded by Peter Lustig and with Fritz Fuchs being president, the company has overturned plans for a box girder bridge over the Rhine River to replace the aging Neuwied Bridge in Rheinland Palatinate, a cable-stayed bridge that was built in 1970, and has advocated for suspension bridges as the main bridge design because of its flexibility in terms of managing wind and high volumes of traffic.
Still despite claims that the demolition and replacement of the bridge would be a waste of money, costing over $3.76 trillion, officials are not wasting any time with planning this event as they would like to introduce the XS2000 Trains on German soil by 2020. While traffic between Flensburg and Hamburg would be rerouted via Kiel and Eckerfördern- part of the reason being the construction of the mega-border train station Flensburg-West, which would relieve rail traffic going in and out of its current station in Flensburg- the demolition and replacement of the Rendsburg High Bridge will take place when pigs and cows grow wings and fly over the moon!  APRIL FOOLS!  😉
The reason it will never happen? Because renovations are almost complete on the bridge and as the mega-structure turns 100 years old this year, the bridge will be receiving international recognition in the fall by various international organizations. At that time, the bridge will be running two-way rail traffic again connecting Flensburg and Hamburg, with Flensburg keeping its main station for all international train travel.
The author has visited the bridge on three different occasions and has even filmed parts of the bridge from different angles. You can view them here. An impressionist article about the bridge will be posted this month in the Chronicles. Stay tuned!

The Bridges of Erfurt, Germany Part I: The Outskirts of Erfurt

The city emblem on the Pfoertchenbruecke in Erfurt. Photo taken in May 2012


The first part of the tour looks at the bridges outside the inner part of the state capital of Thuringia. To specify on what is meant by the outskirts of Erfurt, one has to take a look at the map of Erfurt and the streams that flow through the city. The city got its name from its location on the ford of the Gera River, which is divided into three parts: the Bergstrom, the Walkstrom and the Wild Gera. As the city was prone to flooding, the city in 1890 passed a resolution, calling for the re-channeling of the Wild Gera to the south and east of the city center. The project took eight years and the Wild Gera was filled in to a point where today, the Yuri Gagarin Ring, the inner ring encircling the city center, occupies what was the river. The historic bridges featured in this column will focus on the southern end of the new channel, called Flutgraben just south of the main rail lines that enter Erfurt Main Station. Furthermore bridges to the south and west of Erfurt, including the ones at Luisenpark as well as four located north and east of Erfurt will be featured. A map with the specific locations of the bridge appears with the first bridge profile so you have an idea where they are located. You’ll find the pictures when clicking on the highlighted words, including those on Instagram.

  One has to keep in mind that the bridges in Erfurt that are featured in the next three columns are the ones that are at least 100 years old, most of them being arch bridges made of concrete, brick, and/or stone. A couple exceptions are mentioned.


Map of Erfurt with the Bridges for Part I:

Bridge 1: Schmidtstedt Bridges
Location: Flutgraben east of Erfurt Main Station at the intersection of the Outer Ring and Thaelmannstrasse.
Type: Three-span arch bridge (rail span) and three beam spans: one for vehicular traffic and two for pedestrians. One of the spans can be viewed here.
Built: 1972 for vehicular bridge replacing an arch bridge built in 1895; 1895 for rail bridge- partially replaced in 2010.

The original Schmiedstedt Bridges were one of the first structures built over the new channel of the Gera River. The railroad bridge consisted of three spans of a closed spandrel arch design made of quarry rock and served the rail line connecting Leipzig and points to the south and west. The roadway bridge served as a key link between the train station and what is today a technical university to the north. Yet during the 1970s, the increase in traffic volume warranted the reconstruction of the key intersection. Therefore, the roadway bridge was replaced with a beam bridge with two additional pedestrian bridges being erected to the south of the bridge- one to cross the river and the main highway and one for the river enroute to the railroad bridge. As part of the plan to expand the rail service, especially with regards to the new ICE-line connecting Berlin and Nuremberg via Erfurt, the southern half of the railroad bridge was replaced and expanded, while the northern half still maintains its aesthetic value to this day. This can be seen in its entirety from the pedestrian bridge crossing the bridge and the river.


Bridge 2: Riethstrasse-/ Bahnhofsbrücke
Location: Riethstrasse over the Gera River in the northern suburbs of Erfurt
Type: Parker-Bowstring pony truss bridge with riveted and bolted connections
Built: 1892 at the location of the Erfurt Main Station; moved to its present location in 1912

Located just to the south of the Main Station over the Flutgraben, the steel bowstring arch bridge was built to serve traffic going directly to the city center of Anger. The bridge lasted only 20 years at this location for a wider structure was needed to accommodate not only horse and buggy but also the street cars that went across the bridge going south and west. It was replaced by a concrete arch bridge in 1912, but the truss bridge was relocated to its present site in 1912, where it still serves traffic today but with certain weight and height restrictions. The Bridge is scheduled to be replaced in June 2019 with a steel structure with ornamental Features. Yet given ist historical value, the truss span will be kept and stored until a new spot can be found for it. It will be the first time in over a century that the bridge will be relocated and reused.  The concrete arch structure, where the truss bridge was first built, was replaced in 2004 as part of the project to renovate the train station and make the surrounding infrastructure more accessible for streetcars, buses and pedestrians alike.

Bridge 3:  Pförtchenbrücke
Location: Pförtchenstrasse over the Flutgraben
Type: Closed spandrel arch bridge made of sandstone, limestone and chalk with ornamental features
Built: 1897 replacing a wooden bridge built in 1875.

The origin of this bridge came from one of the towers that existed in the 13th century, where horse and buggy and people could enter and leave the walled city from Steigerwald Forest and Dreibrunnenfeld Field both located to the south and west of the city. The city itself was a walled fortress until the 1890s when the new channel was built replacing the Wild Gera and the gates and towers were proven to be obsolete. However, the bridge was not based on the tower, which no longer exists. It is based on the street it carries. The bridge also served street car traffic which started with horse and tram (Pferdebahn) in 1883 and was followed by the electric street car in 1894. The line, which connected the northern suburb of Illversgehofen and the southern natural area, was later made obsolete by the line passing through Erfurt Main Station.
Today’s bridge is one of the most unique of the bridges serving Erfurt as well as the state of Thuringia. Built in 1897, it is characterized by four towers with vintage lanterns supported by ornamental candelabras. Built using limestone, sandstone and chalk, the outer features are covered by ornamental shields found on each end of the span, while its balustrades resemble a typical arch or concrete beam bridge built in the 1900s in the USA. The year it was built can be found on the outer end of the bridge in the middle of the balustrade.  The bridge was renovated twice: in 1988 when the towers, obelisks, and candelabras were carefully renovated, and in 1997/8 when the bridge itself was reinforced to support more traffic with the shield and other ornamental features being redone. Today the bridge serves the two main highways passing through Erfurt: B7 which is a east-west route connecting Weimar, Jena and Eisenach and B4, a north-south route connecting Nordhausen and Suhl.  It still retains its beauty after a pair of cosmetic operations and is a must see while visiting the city, no matter what time of day it is.

Links:  Oblique view, View of the Lantern, Side View.

Bridge 4: Hollernzollernbrücke
Location: Alfred-Hess-Strasse over the Flutgraben
Type: Closed-spandrel arch bridge with a two-part Korbbogen feature. The arch bridge is a brick arch form. Sculptures on each end of the bridge
Built: 1912  Restored in 1992

In order to provide better access to the Dreierbrunnenpark (now the present-day Luisenpark), the city of Erfurt let the contract out to a firm in Leipzig called Alban Vetterlein and Company, whose branch office was located in Erfurt in May 1911. Construction took almost two years as the city wanted to make the bridge an attractive piece of artwork that was part of the city park. Henceforth, they hired Carl Mellville (1875-1957), a teacher of the school of art, to construct four different sculptures on each corner of the bridge, two per gender and each representing a different form of artwork.  The bridge still retains its structural and aesthetic integrity today, even though renovations had to be made to the structure in 1992 to make it more structurally sound and keep the sculptures from eroding due to weather extremities and air pollution caused by the industry during the Cold War period which was being shut down after German reunification.

Bridge 5: Wilhelmsteg and Friedrichsteg
Location: Over the Flutgraben at Richard-Breslau-Strasse (Friedrichsteg) and Gerhardt-Hauptmann-Strasse (Wilhelmsteg)
Type: Open-spandrel arch bridge with ornamental railings
Built: 1897 (Friedrichsteg) and 1898 (Wilhelmsteg)

There are two characteristics that make these bridges special. Both of them are the only arch bridges of its type serving the city. And both of them serve pedestrians and cyclists. Both were constructed using sandstone and lime thus resembling a tan-colored appearance. The difference between the two are that the roadway is curved in the Wilhelmsteg, whereas in the Friedrichsteg, the roadway is bent upwards in a slant, making a point at the center of the span. Furthermore, unlike the Wilhelmsteg, the Friedrichsteg is one of only a handful of arch bridges that has both an open and closed spandrel design. The Wilhelmsteg is an open spandrel arch. While the Wilhelmsteg was renovated in 2002, the Friedrichsteg still retains its original appearance although renovation will most likely happen in a few years. Both serve the Gera Bike Trail leading to Luisenpark and all points to the south and west.

Bridge 6: Schutzturmschleuse Brücke/Damm
Location: Over the Breitstrom Creek at Strasse des Friedens
Type: Four-span stone arch bridge that functions as a dam
Built: 1631

To provide protection for the city against floods from the Gera River, a series of dams and locks were built in the 1600s to control the flow of water going through the inner part of the city. This was one of them, a contraption featuring a stone arch bridge for people to use that also functions as a dam that was originally located outside the outermost walls of Erfurt. It only functioned partially as problems with water being dammed up causing flooding upstream in areas where the Luisenpark is now located prompted a more permanent solution in the 1890s, which was re-channeling the river. In 1899 an electric street car line was established on the bridge, only to be removed 60 years later. The bridge today still serves traffic while at the same time, functions as a dam even though the is not much river flow through the city thanks to the Flutgraben that now encircles the city center.

Bridge 7: The Luisenpark Bridges
As many as seven bridges cross the Gera River and the tributaries of the Bergstrom and Walkstrom Creeks. Yet two of them stand out as ones that are worth seeing. We have the covered bridge known as the Hospitalsteg, a pedestrian crossing that used to cross the Wild Gera before the river was rechanneled. It was built using a queenpost truss design but after the Wild Gera was filled in, the bridge was shortened in length and relocated to this site, where it still serves pedestrians today. Then there is a cable-stayed suspension bridge, located to the east of the covered bridge spanning the Flutgraben. The bridge was probably built after German Reunification and still retains its structural integrity today as it provides access for pedestrians and cyclists to the Brühl Garden located north of the park. Contrary to the majority of today’s cable-stayed bridges in the US, this one fits nicely into the landscape.

Bridge 8: The Geschwister Scholl Railway Overpass
Location: Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse over a rail line in the suburb of Ringelberg
Type: Three-span brick arch bridge
Built: 1888

The name Geschwister Scholl can be found throughout all of Germany, as every town has a street named in memory of the siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl, who were part of the White Rose movement against the regime of Adolf Hitler but were executed by order of the People’s Court on 18 February, 1943.  The railroad overpass carries this street but is structurally unique because it features one large center arch span and two smaller ones located along the slopes. The bridge is very difficult to find as many objects are in the way, creating an impression that it is just an ordinary bridge. However, another bridge, a deck Queenpost truss bridge is located next to the arch bridge- another rarity in the world of bridge architecture. The bridges cross a rail line connecting Erfurt Main Station with cities in the north, including Nordhausen, Sangerhausen and Magdeburg.

Bridge 9: The Leipziger Strasse Underpass
Location: The Erfurt-Magdeburg, Erfurt-Nordhausen and Erfurt-Kassel Rail Lines over Leipziger Strasse between the city limits and Ringelberg.
Type: Two bridges feature concrete beam designs with Art Greco columns while the center bridge is a closed spandrel arch bridge
Although not featured in the books by Baumbach and Vockrodt, the three bridges are a diamond in the rough in terms of its features and appearance. The bridges were built between 1919 and 1926, and given their appearance, the bridges aged much more rapidly than expected, thus prompting the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) to replace both bridges in 2016-17. This was deemed a necessity as the railways plan to increase passenger train service to the north of Thuringia and beyond.


Source: Wikswat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bridge 10: Marienthal Bridge

Location: Appelstedt Creek at the confluence of the Gera River near Ingersleben

Type: Two-span stone arch bridge

Built: 1752, rebuilt in 1896 and 1995

This bridge is located in the southwestern most part of the greater Erfurt area near the suburb of Erfurt. Bischleben. Its aesthetics is very uncharacteristic of any arch bridge in Erfurt. Built in 1752 by Gustav Adolf von Goetter, the bridge was originally featured one stone arch span. However, to better improve the flow of the creek, an additional arch was added in 1896, albeit it is only two-thirds of the original arch span. The arch bridge is also curved, making it one of two bridges in Erfurt, whose structure does not cross a ravine in a straight line. Although the structure was made obsolete by a new beam structure in 1965, the German Democratic Republic declared the bridge a historic monument, although it was not renovated until 1995. The latest changes feature pavement replacing cobblestones in 2010. Other than that, the bridge and the tower that is next to it still maintains its structural integrity. It can be seen from the railway west of Erfurt.


Bridge 11: Rieth Railroad Bridge

Location: Gera River on an abandoned rail line south of Strasse des Friedens

Type: Riveted Pratt pony truss bridge

Built: ca. 1920, abandoned since 1990

This bridge is one of only a couple of its kind that still exists in Erfurt. It used to serve a passenger rail line that passed through Rieth before making its way northwest. Yet with the German Reunification in 1990 combined with the plan to use a line east of the bridge for passenger service (the Erfurt-Kassel Line), the line and the bridge was both abandoned. They still exist today and the bridge can be seen from the main highway. Interesting enough, another bridge similar to this one, serves the Erfurt-Kassel Line spanning the Gera near Kuehnhausen, one of the northernmost suburbs of the greater Erfurt area.


Bridge 12: Aue Cable-stayed Bridge

Location: Gera River at Auen Strasse and Nordpark

Type: Cable-stayed suspension bridge

Built: 2015

This bridge is the newest of the structures in Erfurt, yet it is the second bridge of its kind in Erfirt. The bridge was built to replace a deck girder bridge that had been built by a firm in Weiden (Bavaria) in the 1990s but was used for pedestrians. The western entrance featured wooden stairways going down to the structure. The new bridge eliminated that while at the same time, provides another possibility for cyclists and pedestrians going to Nordpark and the hospital complex from the eastern part of the city.

The next segment will feature the bridges in the innermost part of the city and with that, also the Karlsbrücke, located between the city center and the Riethstrasse-Brücke in the northern part of the city. Click here to see the guide.

100-year old railroad bridge in Vogtland up for auction

The Bridgehunter’s Chroinicles News Flyer:

16 September, 2011- Reuth (Vogtland), Germany. Auctioning something off can take on the impossible. One can auction off a house but not a bridge, right? In Reuth, located 85km northeast of Bayreuth and 25km northeast of its nearest town of Hof in southwest Saxony has entered the unknown to prove that anyone in the town of 1100 or the surrounding area can buy the bridge at the price they are willing to bid. Faced with lack of funding to support the community, the town is auctioning off its railroad bridge located just outside of town at its train station. The 100-year old Howe pony truss bridge, which spans a rail line and carries pedestrians, is very unique because of its vintage lampposts at each end of the structure plus its arch-like heel bracing located beneath the bridge deck. The bridge is currently in the way of progress as the German Railways is planning on electrifying the Franconia-Saxony Express route which connects Dresden and Nuremberg, stopping at Bayreuth, Hof and Chemnitz and features the Göltzschtal and Elstertal Viaducts, located 30 km northeast of Reuth. Currently, all overhead lines, which had started in Chemnitz, have stopped at Hof and plans are in the making to extend further southwest, with a goal of completing the project by 2013, which may include reintroducing the ICE trains, which have been out of service since 2004. Because of vertical clearance issues, the pedestrian bridge will need to be removed so that the electrification process can continue through the town.
According to Reuth’s mayor, Ulrich Lupart, the bidding (which is available online via eBay) will start at 10,000 Euros, which is the price for scrap metal. Persons interested in the bridge will bear the responsibility of dismantling the structure and re-erecting it wherever he pleases. The mayor envisioned it being erected at an amusement park or over a valley at nearby Peropolis, when asked about future purposes by central Germany’s radio station, MDR-Info (stationed in Halle (Saale)) It is unknown how long the auction will last, but Lupart plans to have the bridge demolished should there be no takers, which he claims the town will have to bear the cost itself for that and would receive less money when it is sold for scrap than it would if it was auctioned off.
While little info was given about the bridge, the Freie Press newspaper, located in Dresden, provided a photo of the bridge, which one can click on the link below. Those interested in the bridge should look at the eBay site as it has been posted with details. Otherwise they are asked to contact the town of Reuth for more details. Should the bridge be successfully auctioned off, it could serve as an incentive for other towns to do the same both in Germany and Europe as well as in the US, as the financial crisis has tightened the belts of many communities, making plans for rehabilitating and reusing historic bridges almost impossible to achieve due to lack of funding. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles wishes the mayor and the community of Reuth best of luck with its endeavors.

Links (only in German):