The renovated Chain Bridge was inaugurated and opened to pedestrians on Friday.
Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony said at the inauguration that the renovation of the Chain Bridge was completed on time and within budget. He emphasized that the Chain Bridge is not just an artifact, a bridge, but a symbol of unity and togetherness. It was the Chain Bridge that launched the birth of Budapest, the capital of the nation, he noted.
Karácsony stressed that
Budapest is the capital of the nation, and that is why the Chain Bridge is a symbol of the unity not only of the people of Budapest, but also of the country as a whole.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge, or more commonly known as the Chain Bridge, spans the Danube River between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of the capital. Designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark and built by Scottish engineer Adam Clark, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary, opened in 1849. It is anchored on the Pest side of the river to Széchenyi Square, adjacent to the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and on the Buda side to Adam Clark Square, near the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle.
The bridge bears the name of István Széchenyi, a major supporter of its construction, who wanted to develop Buda and Pest as a major political, economic, and cultural center.
The Chain Bridge was entrusted as a legacy of an era that believed that Hungary could rise to the ranks of European nations by becoming a capital on a European scale, said the mayor, noting that the bridge is not only the property of Budapest, and therefore “its renovation is not the sole task of Budapest, and we expect the contribution of the national government.”
A serious dispute has been going on between the government and the capital about the cost of the renovation of the bridge. The government offered a HUF 6 billion (EUR 16.2 million) support for the construction on condition that the total or partial restriction of vehicle traffic should not exceed 18 months. As the renovation was not kept within the agreed timeframe, it is still questionable whether the government will pay the amount or not.
After his speech, Gergely Karácsony handed over a key of the Chain Bridge to János Fazekas, the bridge master. Photo via MTI/Szigetváry Zsolt
Katalin Walter, Director General of the Center for Budapest Transport, in charge of the reconstruction, thanked the people of Budapest for their patience and said that
the bridge had been reopened to public transport buses, taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, and scooters 18 months after its closure last December.
Buses will be able to cross the bridge more predictably and in a much shorter time, and cyclists will be able to cross more safely than before the renovation, she added.
András Csohány, CEO of the contractor A-Híd Zrt., said that the first 18 months saw the completion of the “technical part of the work:” the old reinforced concrete deck was demolished and replaced by a new steel deck, the stone surfaces of the bridge were renewed, and the chains were given a new corrosion protection coating. This was followed by the restoration of the monuments, he noted.
Csohány pointed out that
the final opening of the Chain Bridge was completed one and a half months ahead of schedule, and one month ahead of the contract deadline. The reconstruction of the bridge took two years and five months, and cost a gross of HUF 26.7 billion (EUR 68.3 million).
To coincide with the completion of the reconstruction, a Chain Bridge Picnic was held on Friday evening, organized by the Municipality of Budapest and the Center for Budapest Transport, with educational programs, street musicians, food and drink, “light rays,” and a special lighting of the bridge after dark.
The renovated Chain Bridge in the evening decorative lighting on the day of the inauguration. Photo via MTI/Lakatos Péter
Via MTI, Featured image via MTI/Szigetváry Zsolt