BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 102

jena tunnel

PW

Our 102nd Pic of the Week tells a story of how a bridge became a tunnel and how no one but the biker could tell of the change.  This bridge-converted-to-tunnel is located in Jena, in the eastern German state of Thuringia and spans Ammerbach Creek, which runs through the southern suburbs of Ammerbach and Winzerla before it empties into the River Saale near the Ernst-Abbe-Sportsstadium.  It was constructed during the same time as the railroad that connected Weimar with Gera with a regional hub station at Jena-Göschwitz- namely 1876. The stone arch span is no longer than 20 meters and has a height of six meters.

So how was the bridge „converted“ into a tunnel?

This was in connection with the reconstruction of the rail line between Weimar and Jena-Göschwitz and it had to do with a nearby bridge that was built in 1935, spanning Kahlaische Strasse, which was a combination of car and tram services. Because of structural instability due to age and the low clearance on the street, workers built a new bridge off site that was a meter higher and twice as long as the main span of 30 meters over the street. This does not include a tunnel on the west side of the street.  The entire structure was then torn down, and the new span slid into place.

At the same time, this short-span crossing in the picture was rehabilitated and an additional one meter of railroad bedding was added in order to smooth the grading between the two bridges. A double-concrete railing was added on each side to allow for electrical wires to run through the top railing and to capture the falling rocks by the bottom railing.

This whole conversion and nearby bridge replacement happened from the fall of 2016 until the middle part of 2017 and resulted in detours of all kinds, from rail traffic all the way to the bike trail, which the now-converted tunnel crosses.  Living in Winzerla for 15 out of the 20 years I spent in Jena, one can find the detours rather annoying unless you know some short cuts and detours to the city center by car or bike. But this was one that was part of the mega-project on several routes through Jena that brought 70% of the city’s total  traffic to a  standstill and increased the blood pressure of every driver and biker by an average of 45%! It was a bit over the top and still to this day, management could have been better.

In either case, with the water under the bridge, one can still enjoy this scenic view of the tunnel, now covered with vegetation after a a couple years of bare concrete and rock. Like the bridge, this tunnel comes up fast when you bike between the city center and the south of Jena, and one cannot see it right away- unless you make a stop, like I did with my family. This photo was taken last year, in 2019. And the weather was perfect for the pose. The original arch is still there, covered by bushes and trees. However, it is obvious that the structure has been converted into a tunnel.  😉  Nevertheless, one can enjoy the scenery with just the trains passing by. A real treat when you bike through Jena and along the River Saale.  🙂

 

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The Holzlandbahn provides direct connection between Dresden and Düsseldorf via Chemnitz, Glauchau, Gera, Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. While regional trains run on this route mostly, plans are in the making to electrify the railline completely so that InterCity trains can use them by 2030.  More information on the line’s history can be found here.

 

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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
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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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The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge: Film and Documentary

港珠澳(近澳门)
Source: By N509FZ [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia CommonsBy N509FZ [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
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HONG KONG/ MACAU/ ZHUHAI (CHINA)- The idea took 35 years to bear fruit. It took nine years to build. And the idea came from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. Now the 55 kilometer bridge is open, connecting Hong Kong  on one end and Zhuhai (China) and Macau on the other.  The HMZ Bridge was dedicated to traffic today, with over 700 officials attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony that would allow traffic to cross the bridge for the first time ever.  Consisting of three different cable-stayed suspension bridges, over 29 kilometers of main bridge spans and 6.7 kilometers of undersea tunnel, plus the remaining kilometers for approach spans, this bridge provides direct access to Hong Kong’s International Airport, the city itself and Lantau Island from Mainland China, built at a cost of over 20 billion Euros (or $30 billion).  Instead of three hours, travelers can expect to reach their destination in about 30 minutes. A feat that will surely stand for all time to come.  🙂

To better understand the importance of the bridge and what it looks like, a pair of documentaries are available for you to view.  One of which is an ariel view of the bridge. Another is a 20-minute documentary by a Chinese TV network which takes you across the bridge and provides you with some interesting facts about the bridge.

Before going further, let’s have a look at the longest piece of architectural landmark in mankind history 🙂 :

 

 

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Øresund Bridge

Oresund Bridge

Author’s Note: This bridge is part of the series on the Bridges of Copenhagen, which you can click here for a guide to the bridges worth visiting, even by bike.

7.5 kilometers long, connecting Copenhagen with Malmö in Sweden, the Øresund Bridge, judging from a photographer’s point of view, may look like the European version of “The Bridge to Nowhere,” a pun that was first used in Alaska, thanks to Sarah Palin’s bill to build a bridge to an island in the Pacific. The Øresund Strait, which connects the North and Baltic Seas, is one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world, where two-thirds of the year on average brings forth either fog, storms, high winds or even a combination of the three. Upon my visit in 2011, the strait was so foggy that one can barely see the bridge, as seen from the town of Dragør. Furthermore, despite the warm humid August weather, steam was coming out of the water, approaching the shores, as seen below:

Oresund Bridge 2

Yet, travelling across the bridge, which features a tunnel on the Danish side, a tall cable-stayed suspension bridge, and a double-decker featuring the upper level for cars and lower level for rail traffic, is an experience every bridge lover and tourist should experience once in a lifetime. I had a chance to take a ride across the bridge by taxi, going to Malmö. And despite a steep cost for the 15 kilometer trip across the now 15-year old bridge, the trip was well worth it, as seen below:

But how the bridge was built has a history of its own, which featured many delays because of hidden bombs, broken machinery because of drilling attempts, high winds, construction accidents, and other items. But how the Danish and Swedish engineers and builders managed to construct this bridge within a given time span, and make the sleak structure elegant and a record breaker can be found through a documentary below as well as a text, which you can click on here:

From an author’s perspective, crossing the bridge and seeing the view of the strait was like a Trans-Atlantic flight: it was nothing but water for the 10 minutes I went across. Yet going through the really tall, cable-stayed towers, lit up at night, brought forth awe in a way that so many people, who built the bridge, had risked their lives to accomplish not just a feat, but the feat. The feat was not only connecting Denmark and Sweden, nor was it connecting Europe from Scandanavia to the Mediterranean Sea. It was the ability to connect lands from hundreds of kilometers away. Since its opening in 1999, at least 40 crossings longer than this one have been added to a world map that has gotten smaller by the year. And while most of them have originated from China, more ambitious projects are surely in the works, including the Bering Strait crossing and possibly connecting North America with Europe over the Atlantic. These may take a generation to complete, but the Øresund Bridge shows clearly that anything is possible as far as bridge construction is concerned.

Oresund Bridge 3

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