Libeňský most repairs could take eight years

If the bridge is declared a cultural monument the repair process will be long

If the Culture Ministry declares the bridge Libeňský most to be a cultural monument, the renovation work to reopen it could take at least eight years. If it is not declared a monument, it could be back in operation in less than three years, according to Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD).

The bridge was closed Jan. 19 to public transport and passenger cars due to its emergency condition. Tests showed that one section could not support the potential weight of multiple heavy vehicles crossing at the same time. Pedestrians and bicyclists can still cross the bridge.

Dolínek says that if the bridge is named a monument, the city will have to go back to the beginning of the process for getting building permits. The Czech Republic has one of the most time-consuming processes for getting documentation for construction projects. In Europe, only Romania, Moldova and Bosnia-Herzegovina ranked lower in this regard, according to a World Bank report issued in 2017.

The city would have to ask the designers to make a proposal for a bridge repair project, and then start the land use procedure before they can ask for a zoning decision. Once that is completed, a building permit can be issued.

Dolínek added that if the bridge was a landmark, keeping the exact look of the bridge would be more important than the need for immediate repairs.

If the Culture Ministry does not declare it a protected monument, Dolínek said the 2016 City Council decision to preserve the original design of the bridge could be revoked. Then the city could go ahead with a previously approved plan to repair the bridge with a new look. The city could choose a contractor and have repairs take place so that the bridge is operational again at the end of 2020 or start of 2021.

The city in 2016 decided to preserve the bridge due to its architectural value. It was saved in large part due to efforts of the public, calling for it to be repaired rather than replaced as it was associated with significant architects and is a unique example of a cubist-style bridge.

The concrete bridge was designed by architects Pavel Janák and František Mencl. It replaced a wooden bridge built in 1903. Libeňský most opened April 29, 1928, for the 10th anniversary of Czechoslovakia.

At the end of last week, the Technical Administration of Roadways (TSK) evaluated the bridge as being in emergency condition based on diagnostic measurements by the Klokner Institute, part of the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT).

The city is now awaiting a further report from the Klokner Institute with recommendations on how to proceed.

Plans to repair the bridge began in 2004 when the city approved a renovation. Building permits were issued in 2009 for part of the bridge infrastructure, but the project stalled.

The city in 2014 approved the award of a public contract for renovations that would replace the current design with a wider one.

When the closure was announced, Prague 8 Mayor Roman Petrus criticized the city for not doing the repairs sooner and said the bridge could have been fixed already if his district had been listened to.

Prague is now considering introducing two new bus lines for commuters in Holešovice and Libeň, but full details are not yet available.

As a temporary measure, pink Rekolo bicycles that can be rented with a phone app are now available at the bridge so people can ride them to the other side, according to the Prague 7 district website. Bus line 156 also has increased service.

Related articles:
Libeňský most closed due to 'emergency condition' | Prague TV 19.01.2018

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