A crane boom transported on the freighter “Meri” hit and damaged the Holtenau high bridges in Kiel on Wednesday morning, the 30th of November, according to police. No one was injured. The two elevated bridges over the Kiel Canal are therefore closed in both directions to traffic until further notice. Since thursday, the first of december pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to cross the bridges again. This was announced by the state road construction agency. The experts’ investigations are continuing.

Implications for commuters

The 518 meters long and 42 meters high bridges in Holtenau were built in 1972 and are part of the federal road B503. It is one of the most important and busiest roads in the region of Kiel. Many drivers use the bridges everyday to travel to the Rendsburg-Eckernförde district or to Kiel to get to their workplace in the city. Accordingly, the closure of the high bridges has a very strong impact on car traffic in and around Kiel.

“We are working to set up bus services on both sides of the bridge to get people across the Kiel Canal. […] Of course, we also want to allow car and truck traffic back as soon as possible,” said the Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Economics and Transport Claus Ruhe Madsen (non-party) in an interview with NDR.

Unresolved effects

As a result of the collision the steel structure, welds and cross members of the bridges were damaged. In detail pictures you can clearly see the traces of the collision on the high bridges. The damage is quite serious as many welds are cracked and the cross beams are at risk. “It does look pretty massive,” said Madsen after his bridge visit, referring to the damaged welds. “That’s really where the stability of the bridge is at risk.” In the older of the two bridges, many parts need to be replaced. Besides the bridge, the transported crane has also been significantly damaged. Moreover the closure of the bridges also has an economic impact, as trucks cannot pass through for the time being. Because of this, roads that are already strained will be strained even more. Therefore, strong efforts are currently being made to determine the exact damage of the bridges. At this point experts are still examining whether the damage will affect the statics of the elevated bridges in some way. While cars could be allowed on the newer bridge soon again, the closure of the older bridge will take much longer. Due to these further extensive investigations and upcoming repairs, it is possible that the closure of the older bridge for trucks and busses will last for up to half a year. One thing is definitely for sure the already older bridges need a major overhaul – and that will take time and cost a lot of money.

Establishment of a replacement transport

The city has organized a special ferry shuttle running between Holtenau and a pier in the inner fjord and a bus replacement service north of the canal. The rides are free of charge. A direct bus connection is expected to be set up soon onwards via the Levensau High Bridge further to the west in the direction of Kiel North.

How do you feel about the accident? Does the current closure of the elevated bridges affect your everyday life? Write it in the comments.