Libeňský most gets reprieve

The agenda for a meeting to discuss the bridge failed to find approval

City Hall failed to reach a decision on tearing down Libeňský most (Libeň Bridge). The 11-member City Council earlier in the week approved the demolition, but the 65-member City Assembly did not approve the agenda for a meeting on the topic after three hours of discussion on Thursday by a vote of 30 to 35.

Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) is expected to bring the issue up again within in approximately two to three weeks under the rules of procedure.

The failure to move forward comes one day after a protest to save the bridge was attended by some 200 people.

Assemblyman Jan Čižinský (KDU-ČSL), who is also mayor of Prague 7, wanted to move the discussion on the demolition to after 5 pm so members of the public could attend. Krnáčová accused Čižinský of obstruction. The meeting was not extended.

Instead of tearing the bridge down to build a new one on the existing pylons, Čižinský tried to propose that the city to endorse a resolution that was approved in 2016 calling for the existing bridge to be repaired in its current dimensions. The idea was also supported by Assemblywoman Marta Semelová (KSČM).

Matěj Stropnický (Greens) claimed that he had verbally and physically attacked over the issue by another City Hall member and asked the mayor to ensure safety.

Opponents of tearing down the Libeňský most met at the bridge on April 25 in the evening, some carrying homemade signs. Architect and university lecturer František Gattermayer gave a speech about the historical significance of the bridge.

Prague 7 Mayor Čižinský (KDU-ČSL), Ondřej Mirovský and Petra Kolínská (Greens) and Hana Marvanová (STAN), all members of the Three-Party Coalition in City Hall, also spoke.

The topic is dividing the parties that are governing in City Hall, as ANO and the ČSSD favor demolition and the Three-Party Coalition opposes it.

Advocates of repairing the existing bridge point out the lack of transportation alternatives. Replacing the bridge would take some two to three years, with no convenient connection between Prague 7 and Prague 8.

The existing bridge could likely stay in operation during the repairs.

A second protest planned for April 26 was called off due to the lack of action at City Hall.

Adam Scheinherr, a member of the party Praha Sobě, posted a speach he had planned to make at the City Hall meeting on Facebook, as he did not get a chance to make it. He pointed out that the bridge is a unique example of cubism and that it should be saved for future generations. Architecture scholars come to the city to look at it, he added.

Architect Roman Koucký, one of the main figures behind the new Metropolitan Plan, told daily Mladá fronta Dnes that it would be a mistake to tear down the only cubist bridge in Europe, and such a decision would be short-sighted.

The Ministry of Culture has declined to call the bridge a cultural monument, however. This clears the way for its demolition.

The concrete bridge was designed by architects Pavel Janák and František Mencl, and it opened April 29, 1928, for the 10th anniversary of Czechoslovakia. It has never been repaired during this time.

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.

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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