This week (Tuesday night to be precise).....something happened around a major bridge in my local area....the Schiersteiner Bridge.
There are only three bridges to cross from Wiesbaden south....over the Rhine River. Two are autobahn bridges with six lanes each....one is a city bridge with four lanes. If you don't make it across those three bridges....your only alternate venue in any direction for thirty-odd miles would be three or four ferry operations of a minor nature (twenty cars max).
So, what occurred on Tuesday night was some type of 'bumping' action on a column of the Schiersteiner Bridge. There's major work going on to build the new bridge (probably sixty feet at the most from the old bridge). Somewhere under the current bridge....some moved something around and that bumped a column.....which got dislodged, and there's a fair-sized crack now in the concrete layer of the bridge itself. From thirty feet away....you can see the crack.
The folks at the work site noticed all of this.....shut down the road....and triggered a 'mess'. Dozens of experts have come in....done tests....and will conclude their analysis by the middle of this upcoming week.
What happened on Wednesday was kinda interesting because 100,000 cars generally have to move north or south each day on this one single bridge. In the summer period, it might swing up to 150,000 in a single day.
The two other bridges were designed to handle the amount of traffic involved. A thirty-minute ride now might take two hours minimum....maybe three hours.
On Thursday morning....near the city bridge on the Wiesbaden-side....some car got bumped and the owner got out. There were some words, and then the guy whoomped (fist) the second guy through his car window. The first guy got back into his car and drove off. Folks are frustrated and angry.
Alternate solution? Basically the only back-up plan is to maximize use of railway options. The Bahn guys agreed to add more cars onto each train in Wiesbaden and Mainz, and folks have noticed a big upswing in folks using public transportation. To be honest.....if you just had to cross the city bridge to get to work.....it'd be best to park the car, and walk over the bridge....thus avoiding a 45-minute delay built into just getting over the bridge.
How long will the 'broke' bridge be sitting there? Folks aren't that hopeful. The experts are hinting that it might take a month or two. If they put a new column in....they'd have to let the concrete dry out completely, and that's a thirty-day job by itself.
Naturally, this all brings out the political angle to this. Back in 2005....someone wrote up a major report and laid out that the old bridge was not capable of handling the load currently on it and needed replacement ASAP. The current political parties in charge at the time.....SPD and Greens.....did mostly nothing....noting that the state governments weren't handing out enough money/funding to make this a high priority. The CDU folks generally blame this group for the delay in building this new bridge. Currently....at best....the new replacement bridge is slated to open in 2019 (some folks have their doubts already about the date).
Building a tunnel under the Rhine? No. They don't want it. Building more bridges around the region? Folks get all peppy about upsetting natural scenic views....so these three bridges are the exception and allowed.
All of this brings me to this historical view of the Allies rushing across France and Germany in 1944/1945. Everything about the push to get to Berlin was geared toward bridges and crossing them. Because of the large assortment of rivers around Germany.....bridges are a major segment of life. If a bridge was taken out.....it meant you had to travel several hours onto the next location and hope it was still up. In the seventy-odd years since the war....nothing much has changed. Bridges in Germany are a fact of life.
Bottom line? A hundred thousand folks are trying to find various ways to stay friendly while adding a minimum of one hour onto their daily commute. Some folks are pressed to the limit while adding three to four hours onto their commute, if you consider both coming and going.