The redeveloped Chain Bridge, Source: Gergely Karácsony on Facebook

Budapest reopens the Chain Bridge but cars are not allowed

Budapest reopens the Chain Bridge but cars are not allowed

It will serve only public transport, bikes and taxis, while pedestrians will have to wait until 2023

Last Friday, the Chain Bridge in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, partially opened for traffic after the initial stage of reconstruction was complete. The bridge, an iconic landmark, has also been a linchpin for traffic in the city that will now carry public transport, taxis and cyclists.

Reconstruction of the bridge started in the summer of 2021 and 18 months later, local authorities can only offer a partially finished project. Nevertheless, this is still quite significant, as officials say this was the first major reconstruction of the Lánchíd since World War II and it required structural upgrades.

The landmark is now closed to pedestrians, as the sidewalks are still a construction site, scheduled to open in the autumn of 2023. Then, according to a statement by Budapest’s Mayor Gergely Karácsony, authorities will hold a public consultation to decide whether to open the bridge for car traffic at all or to keep it as infrastructure for public transport, taxis and bikes.

This is a major departure from the previous role of the bridge as a sight of usual traffic jams. Moreover, it is the cause for some characteristic Hungarian political antagonism between the national Fidesz government and Budapest’s mayor.

The reconstruction

The reconstruction cost 18.8 billion Hungarian forints (around 46 million euros) and the final reconstruction will be completed in 2023 to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The bridge was in serious disrepair and the redevelopment had to focus on structural features.

For example, 350 metres of old reinforced concrete roadway were demolished and rebuilt with custom 3.5 metre-wide eight-ton steel rods. Also, the support elements of the bridge were suffering from corrosion and while they were not in danger of collapse, needed a replacement.

The main bridge elements were kept but strengthened, the stone coverings were polished, and the four lions, two on each end of the bridge, were completely renovated. None of them were remanufactured in order to keep the authenticity of the historic landmark.

Moreover, the Chain Bridge now features period-accurate lanterns as the only source of street illumination, apart from an LED installation for architectural highlighting.



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