Railway bridge from Vyton to Smíchov (pictured on October 18, 2018).
Prague – The UNESCO World Heritage Center wrote in a letter to the Czech Ministry of Culture (MK) that the Výton railway bridge should be preserved in Prague. According to the center, the reason is the fact that the bridge is an important part of the panorama of Prague and its importance is also given by its declaration as a cultural monument of the Czech Republic. Today, ČTK reported on the letter from the UNESCO center to the association Nebourat, whose petition against the demolition of the bridge was signed by about 15,500 people. Today, the MK confirmed to ČTK that it had received the letter.
The ministry referred to its earlier statements and above all to the fact that it had declared the bridge a cultural monument. In the past, the owner of the bridge, Správa železnik (SŽ), tried unsuccessfully to remove the bridge's historical protection, which the MK refused.
Based on the technical reports, the preservation of the bridge is feasible, the repair and improvement of the railway line are possible, among other things, for example, by adding a straight structure for the third track that will not disturb the visuals of the railway bridge, according to the UNESCO letter, signed by the director of its cultural section, Lazare Eloundou Assoma . According to him, the design of the new bridge has none of the elegance and sophistication of the railway bridge. The new bridge would have an adverse impact on Prague's river panorama, which is part of the reason why Prague is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, he said. The eventual dismantling of the bridge cannot be supported, as its cultural value results precisely from its location, he added.
The Railway Administration launched an international competition for the restoration of the bridge, the results of which it presented last year. The winning project envisages that only the lower part with the pillars will be preserved and the current riveted structure will be replaced by a new one. This variant caused resentment among some lay members of the public and experts, who demand the preservation of the bridge. Many meetings were held with representatives of Prague, the Ministry of Transport, SŽ and experts. In their comments, seven out of ten experts at the international colloquium recommended replacing the structure.
For example, according to Jiří Kolísk, director of the Klokner Institute of Czech Technical University, a repair that will ensure resistance to the expected traffic load and a sufficient service life seems to be unfeasible. Other experts said that the bridge is in poor condition and its reconstruction would be expensive, long and the result would be a significantly shorter lifespan than a new bridge. Swiss bridge expert Eugen Brühwiler, on the other hand, spoke in favor of reconstruction.
According to the Czech National Committee ICOMOS, the bridge is repairable and preserving it in its current form should be a priority due to its value. On the other hand, the representative of the Výtoň 21 initiative uniting local residents, Jiří Grund, spoke in favor of replacing the structure. “When a train passes on Výton, an earthquake occurs,” he said. He added that during the modernization for billions of crowns, the local people should also be thought of and the bridge should be built according to modern standards.
The Prague council decided in March that it would support the reconstruction of the bridge in its current form, it is also essential for the city to build it third college. Transport Minister Martin Kupka (ODS) previously stated that he wants to decide on the next step by the end of the year.