The dilapidated Rahmedetal bridge on the A45 has been closed for more than a year

Posted by svtransporte

The full closure of the Rahmedetal Bridge has been a heavy burden for the economic region of South Westphalia for over a year – and was the subject of a special session of the Düsseldorf state parliament’s transport committee.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister President Hendrik Wüst (CDU) sees several mistakes in the run-up to the closure of the central Rahmedetal bridge on the A45. However, he denied personal failings from his tenure as state transport minister at a special session of the Düsseldorf state parliament’s transport committee on Monday. From today’s perspective, the decision not to reinforce or rehabilitate the bridge was wrong. Wüst acknowledged, “Unfortunately, this decision from 2014 has not been cured even during my tenure as transport minister.” However, he said, this also applied to his predecessors and successors and to federal transport ministers – regardless of their respective government responsibilities. “The fact is: I was not a minister in 2014,” Wüst emphasized. The CDU politician was NRW’s transport minister from 2017 to October 2021.

© Photo: Rudy Fessel/dpa/picture-alliance

Wüst wants federal-state pact
Another mistake was not giving top priority to the bridge’s new construction, Wüst said. “It’s hard for me to imagine that the experts would have proceeded in this way if they had even suspected that the bridge would have to be closed to traffic,” Wüst said. The premier reiterated his call for a federal-state pact for planning acceleration. He said the closure has turned the lives of many people along the detour routes upside down.

During the three-and-a-half-hour special session, the opposition repeatedly questioned why he had not been significantly involved with the poor condition of such an important arterial road during his tenure as state transportation minister. After all, the A45 is the main axis from north to south and South Westphalia, which is now severely affected, is the number one economic region in NRW, said SPD member of parliament Gordan Dudas. After all, the remaining life of the dilapidated bridge had been calculated until 2025 and the new construction had been planned for the years 2026 to 2030. “You must have reacted then,” the opposition politician accused Wüst.

Significant stability problem
The head of government countered, as did Elfriede Sauerwein-Braksiek, director of the Westphalia branch of Autobahn GmbH, that experts had always given the bridge the same grade of 3.0 during regular safety inspections over the years. Bridges with this note are not a cause for special crisis talks, the director explained.

It wasn’t until laser-scan examinations in November 2021 that “the first dramatic results” came in, so the decided to close in December, Sauerwein-Braksiek reported. Further investigations in January had then made it clear that the old bridge could no longer be opened to traffic, but would have to remain fully closed. “This bridge has a significant stability problem,” she said. In the years before, however, the stability had not been objected to “wrongly with the knowledge of today,” Wüst added.

So far, the design work is on schedule, Sauerwein-Braksiek said. However, a date for the demolition of the dilapidated bridge could not yet be named. He said a lot of the work is weather-dependent and can’t be done in winter weather.

In addition, test drillings had shown that the wall thickness at the piers was no longer sufficient and that the blasting concept therefore had to be revised. “It all takes time,” Sauerwein-Braksiek said.

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