Concern over state of Berlin's bridges after figures show more than 40 have defects

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Concern over state of Berlin's bridges after figures show more than 40 have defects
A worker inspects the area around the collapsed Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Fears have been raised over the state of Berlin's bridge network following the tragic collapse of a motorway bridge in Genoa earlier this week.


More than 40 bridges in Berlin have been classed as being in an "insufficient condition", the Berliner Morgenpost reports. The Berlin Senate has moved to reassure people that the city’s 2085 bridges for road, pedestrian and cyclists are “very safe structures”.

It came as rescue workers continued to search through rubble to find survivors after a vast span of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed on Tuesday. At least 39 people have been killed and a further 16 injured.

Dorothee Winden, a spokeswoman for the Berlin Senate told the Berliner Morgenpost that there are regular inspections across the city and surrounding area, which means problems in the network are likely to be detected in good time.

Winden added that cracks or other tell-tale signs of damage are noted and acted on before a failure occurs. She said: “This allows us to intervene in a timely manner.”

To show how this warning system works, Winden pointed to the Salvador Allende Bridge in Köpenick. When the cracks got too big, the Senate ordered a full closure of the bridge section for trucks and cars.

Many Berliners may also remember the Frey Bridge in Spandau, which has now been replaced by a new construction. The bridge was closed to heavy trucks in early 2014. "Such measures reduce the risk of an unpredictable failure of a bridge to an absolute minimum," Winden told the newspaper.

According to the Senate Traffic Administration of 2017, only 230 of the approximately 830 bridges maintained by the Senate are in very good or good condition. For 553 bridges, the condition is considered satisfactory or sufficient. The newspaper found that 42 bridges are in an insufficient condition.

The situation is similar with the 252 overpasses in Berlin, which are federally owned. Only one in five received the condition grade good or very good, while three quarters are in a satisfactory or sufficient condition.

Due to budget cuts in the past decades, there are concerns over the amount of money being spent to maintain the bridge and roads network in the area.

The transport policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group, Frank Scholtysek, said he had doubts over the view that Berlin's bridges are safe. He pointed to the five percent of highway bridges where the condition was rated 3.0 or worse by examiners. "That means the structures are not sufficiently built," he said.

"After years of saving, Berlin is investing heavily in the renovation and new construction of bridges," added Winden.

In the current year, 41.5 million euros and another 13.7 million euros will be available for 'Bundesbrücken' - the state-owned road bridges.

More than 20 bridges are currently being planned for longer-term repairs or replacement projects. Short-term repairs are also being made to around 100 bridges per year.

"The rehabilitation of bridges will continue to be a high priority over the next few years," said Winden.

Meanwhile, we told yesterday how experts have warned that a bridge collapse in Germany 'could not be ruled out'. A report last March by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) concluded that only 12.5 percent of Germany's motorway bridges were in good condition, while 12.4 percent were in poor condition.



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