The Prague railway bridge (pictured on December 27, 2013) from Podskalí to Smíchov.
Prague – An international group of experts evaluated the possibilities of solving the bad condition of the Vyšehrad railway bridge in Prague. They will hand over the conclusions to the Minister of Transport Martin Kupka (ODS) within a week. The representatives of the State Railway Administration told this to journalists today. Earlier, the administration presented a project according to which only the lower part of the listed bridge should be preserved and the current structure should be replaced by a new one. The leadership of Prague 5 and part of the lay and professional public do not agree with this.
Photo gallery: Railway bridge under Vyšehrad
The technical colloquium, i.e. a group of ten experts specializing in bridge construction from the Czech Republic and other countries, discussed the bridge over the Vltava river between Prague's Výtoní and Smíchov on Monday and today. “Their evaluations of already carried out surveys and calculations of the bridge's load-bearing capacity were provided both by specialists who prepared assessments of the current state of bridge degradation, and by experts proposed by opponents of the current solution. The third group, confronting different approaches, were participants nominated by CTU (Czech University of Technology), ” said Dušan Gavenda, spokesman for the Railway Administration. The group also evaluated the results of the architectural competition on the shape of the new bridge and the possibilities of reconstruction.
According to the Railway Administration, the colloquium participants agreed on six out of seven questions. The seventh point will be discussed during the week, said the secretary of the colloquium, Petr Hofhanzl, director of the West Construction Administration from the Railway Administration. The administration did not specify what the questions were.
Eugen Brühwiler, an expert on historic bridge constructions from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, also participated in the colloquium. “There are many cases in the world where existing historical structures are involved in new construction. It is necessary to avoid the need to build a new bridge. The old one can also be modernized,” he said. “The current form of Prague illustrates a cross-section of its development from the Middle Ages to modern times. Its development does not conflict with the principles of historic preservation,” said another member of the colloquium, Peter Strasser from Austria's Danube University.
“I think it is important that it has been said that all the data we have and the work that has been done is at a very good level and completely sufficient. This means that we have all the detailed diagnostics,” said Hofhanzl. In a week, according to him, the members of the colloquium will send an answer to the seventh question, which they will hand over to Kupko along with the previous six answers. The minister told the media on Monday that a decision on the future of the bridge should be made by the end of the year.
The railway administration has already presented a project, according to which only the lower part of the bridge with pillars is to be preserved and the current riveted structure is to be replaced by a new one. On the contrary, the preservation of the current form of the bridge is advocated, for example, by the former deputy mayor of Prague, Adam Scheinherr (Praha Sobě) and the management of Prague 5. The plans of the Railway Administration were also opposed by a part of the public. A petition was created to save the bridge, which has so far been signed by 11,000 people.
The citizens' initiative Nebourat.cz, for example, does not agree with the new construction. “If this icon were to fall, nothing would be left of the Smíchov industrial layer,” one of its founders, Pavel Štorch, told the media. For example, the newly established association Výtoň21 supports the modernization of the bridge. “Whenever anything is started to be built in the Czech Republic, there is a group that starts obstructions, which as a result slows down any modernization, or even stops it completely,” said the chairman of the association, Jiří Grund.
The Výtona railway bridge was in its in its original form, it was put into operation on August 15, 1872. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was replaced by a bridge that spans the Vltava to this day. The current bridge consists of three trusses with a span of 69.9 meters, is 8.1 meters wide and 298.4 meters long. According to preservationists, the structure is an important technical cultural monument in the exposed part of the Prague Monument Reserve.