Around 1,000 Czech bridges to undergo safety inspections

Doubský Bridge in Karlovy Vary, photo: ČTK/Slavomír Kubeš

All Czech road and rail bridges dating from the 1960s to the 1980s are to undergo safety checks. Around 1,000 bridges are set for inspection by the relevant authorities, while the transport minister has also called on regional authorities to carry out controls.

Doubský Bridge in Karlovy Vary,  photo: ČTK/Slavomír Kubeš
The Roads and Motorways Directorate and the Railway Infrastructure Administration have received orders from the minister of transport, ANO appointee Dan Ťok, to inspect bridges in the Czech Republic built in the period from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Concerns have been sparked by the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in the Italian city of Genoa, which was constructed in the mid-1960s.

Of the 1,000 or so Czech bridges due for inspection around 600 are road bridges and the remainder carry trains.

One road bridge, the Doubský Bridge in Karlovy Vary, is already set for demolition, Mr. Ťok told journalists. The 1960s structure was due to be repaired but initial renovation work revealed it to be in poorer shape than originally believed.

This is the reason fresh inspections have been ordered. Mr. Ťok said his ministry wished to make sure other bridges weren’t also beset by hidden structural flaws that were undetected previously.

The minister has also called on the country’s regional authorities, which are responsible for second- and third-class roads, to send out inspectors. He says the key focus ought to be on bridges above roads and rail lines.

The plan to demolish the Doubský Bridge has not gone down well in Karlovy Vary. Its closure for repairs in April this year caused severe traffic problems in the West Bohemian town and it had been due to reopen to traffic in November.

Karlovy Vary mayor’s Petr Kulhánek said it was unforgivable that only after a full four months of closure had it been announced that the bridge needed to be knocked down and replaced.

Making matters worse is the fact another bridge in the town, the Dvorský Bridge, is in urgent need of renovation. It has been serving as an alternative to the Doubský Bridge.

There are almost 18,000 road bridges and over 6,750 rail bridges in the Czech Republic.

Six of country’s first class road bridges have already been found to be in a calamitous state. They have been closed and await repair or demolition.

Over 350 railway bridges have been repaired but none are judged to be in a calamitous state.

The state has earmarked CZK 1.5 billion for the modernisation of bridges this year.