Crane called in after stray water buffalo cause massive autobahn logjam

The A3 between Düsseldorf and Cologne was closed down on Monday morning due to five water buffalo blocking the motorway. Emergency services had their work cut out trying to gather the bulky beasts back in.

Crane called in after stray water buffalo cause massive autobahn logjam
Photo: Oliver Köhler/WDR/DPA

Motorists had to endure considerable traffic jams as a result of the closure. It took nine hours for the fire brigade and the police to collect the water buffalo and remove them from the autobahn.

The A3 motorway near Leverkusen was temporarily closed in both directions, a police spokeswoman said. Only later in the morning was it possible to open up the motorway again.

It was a struggle to get the large animals off the road as some of them were walking between the stopped cars, the spokeswoman added. One of them had also become trapped in a guard rail and had to be freed.

Only after a veterinarian from the Cologne Zoo anaesthetized the animals could they be gathered and finally transported back to their field. Emergency services were able to complete the big task with the help of a crane.

The five buffalo are believed to have broken free from a nearby pasture in Leverkusen late on Sunday evening. They then sauntered toward the A3 autobahn.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world.