Traffic returns to Libeňský most

Trams and vehicles up to six tons will be allowed as of Saturday

Tram and vehicle traffic will return to Libeňský most on Saturday, March 3, at approximately 4:30 am. This follows after a new support was added to a weakened section of the bridge and technical measurements were made.

Tram lines between Libeň and Holešovice will return to their original routes, the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) announced. Trams will alternate on the bridge, so two are not crossing at the same time.

Even though the bridge will reopen, tram traffic will not be fully normal as scheduled work in the Palmovka to Bulovka section of tracks still requires some detours and special bus lines. This was already in effect when the bridge closed and is not related to the status of the bridge.

Vehicles up to six tons will also be allowed, Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) said. A similar weight restriction was already in place before the bridge was shut down in January.

Dolínek said a new technical report showed vehicles up to 11 tons could cross the bridge, but the city opted for the lower limit out of safety concerns.

Libeňský most was closed to motor vehicle and tram traffic Jan. 19 due to the emergency condition of one of its spans. The bridge was found to have one section is the worst technical category out of seven categories. The city then hired a specialized company to make temporary emergency repairs so it could be reopened in a short amount of time.

Permanent repairs will take much longer. The Culture Ministry has ruled that the bridge is not a protected landmark. This means that repairs or demolition can take place without having to take the historical aspects of the bridge into account.

The city is now looking at options ranging from replacing the bridge with a new one to restoring the existing one with technically stronger sections that look like the original.

Preservationists and some local groups have been pushing for a plan that will at least keep the look of the original. They claim that this would cost about the same as a new bridge.

Experts who support the idea of a new bridge claim that in the long run it would last longer and be cheaper to maintain, as the old bridge would require constant checks and repairs even after work was finished.

Repairs that keep the look of the original would cost Kč 550 million, while a new bridge would cost Kč 600 million, according to experts from the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT).

The concrete bridge was designed by architects Pavel Janák and František Mencl, and it opened April 29, 1928, for the 10th anniversary of Czechoslovakia.

The bridge was originally called Masarykův most and was called Baxův most in 1939 and '40, and then Libeňský most from 1940 to '45, then Baxův most again from 1945 to '52. It was Stalingradský most from 1952 to '62 and then Libeňský most since then.

The concern for the city’s bridges came after the footbridge in Troja collapsed Dec. 2, injuring four people, two seriously. The footbridge linked Stromovka park with the Troja Chateau and Prague Zoo. It was popular in the summer with people strolling in the park and with bikers. Luckily, the collapse was in cold weather when it had less use.

Almost one-fifth of 700 bridges in the capital city are in poor, very poor or emergency condition, according to a report submitted in January to City Hall’s Transportation Committee by the Technical Administration of Roadways (TSK).

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