Sunday, 25 April 2010

Repair or replace or leave to rot?

Cycling home last week, I noticed that the footbridge (kładka, pron. 'KWUDkuh') over ul. Puławska has been well and truly closed. I decided to investigate today. It transpires that a large chunk of it simply fell off on to the bus stop below. The bridge was instantly sealed off, according to an article in Życie Warszawy. Incidentally, the photo illustrating the story is not of this particular bridge!

The closure means huge inconvenience for those living on ul. Jagielska; coming home from town on the bus, they are unable to cross the six-lane highway. The alternative is walking one stop from either Karczunkowska or Kapeli. This is also a useful bus stop for the Las Kabacki forest, I wonder how many people were left stranded here this weekend.

Taking a closer look, one can see the enormity of what had happened (right). Imagine standing at the bus stop when all of a sudden a large slab of reinforced concrete falls on your head. Or crossing the road and suddenly plunging 20 ft onto the pavement below.

The bus stop has been moved several metres south; a mesh has been slung under the gaping hole to catch any falling debris.

The question now is - what next? Many of Warsaw's kładki of this era have been replaced (such as the ones along ul. Czerniakowska). The work went on for months and led to traffic misery. Rush hour traffic here is already miserable at the best of times. Will it be repaired? A structural engineer will have to answer that. Repairing it would still necessitate lane closure. The other alternative - just leave it. To the annoyance of locals and visitors to the forest. But there's a local election coming up in the autumn...

The classic Warsaw kładka such as this one was a nuisance for cyclists and parents with pushchairs or prams - for the wheelchair-bound, without a very strong person helping, getting up and down the steps was impossible. The iron ramps were too steep and too narrow. New kładki have wheelchair lifts at either end, or, as in the case of the super-kładka across Al. Niepodległości by the Pole Mokotowskie fields, a spiral ramp for cyclists to ascend and descend without having to dismount. Plus wheelchair lifts. I doubt if the city's budget would stretch to one of these.

I hope they don't demolish it. I've taken some good snaps from up there... like this one, and how it looked in the days when traffic jams had just ceased to be tolerable.

UPDATE 1 May: Temporary traffic lights have been installed on Puławska by the closed kładka. For you motorised, important, self-impatient wozidupki driving your big, black four wheel-drives with darkened rear windows stuck in the resultant jam, all I can say is that they were designed for muddy fields.


White Horse Pilgrim said...

Glad I wasn't waiting for a bus that day.

A sensible prefabricated footbridge with ramp and stairs isn't beyond the wit of man. There are some serviceable examples on railway stations between Coventry and Birmingham, for instance. As for "traffic chaos", these UK examples have to be installed in overnight possessions so they are quick to crane in then bolt into place.

Anonymous said...

Up north we are fortunate that the new bridge over the Wistula is being built because it is only thanks to that that our own example of rotting footbridge (almost identical to yours) is finally being removed and replaced.

The general condition of bridges in Warsaw is a bit of a scandal but there are signs of things being done;
1/ They now have Andersa closed again for finishing off.
2/ Lot of work going on to deal with bloody awful mess of Torunska as it crosses Modlinska.

So, it is still a terrible mess but it is slowy improving. Too slowly of course but improving nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

What on earth prompted me to spell Wisła that way?? Sort of half Polski half English!