Damage to the body of the bridge was found on the motorway bridge over the Moselle on the A61 near Winningen. Strict rules now apply to relieve the bridge structure.
As reported by the federal highway company, "crack formation on the weld seams in the bridge body" was found during a regular structural inspection. The cause can be traced back to fatigue in welded steel connections. Further investigations are pending and are expected to be published in spring 2023.
A61 is a diversion route for closed A45
As an immediate measure to relieve the bridge, a speed limit of 60 km/h applies in both directions in the right lane with immediate effect. Only cars are allowed to drive in the left lane at speeds of up to 80 km/h. A minimum distance of 50 meters applies to heavy goods traffic up to 44 tons, which must also be maintained in the event of a traffic jam. Large-capacity and heavy-duty transports are also prohibited from crossing until further notice.
Around 37,000 vehicles a day currently roll over the Moselle Valley Bridge, which was built in 1972, a third of which are heavy goods vehicles. To make matters worse, the A61 serves as a large-scale diversion for the A45, on which the Rahmedetal bridge near Lüdenscheid will be closed for the coming years. Accordingly, heavy goods traffic has increased from around 20 percent in 2019 to 30 percent now. According to an internal investigation by Autobahn GmbH from 2022, 28,000 bridges in Germany are in need of repair or need to be replaced.
The bridge is located between the Koblenz/Dieblich and Koblenz/Metternich junctions and consists of six bridge spans resting on two abutments and five pillars. The highest pillar measures 124 meters. The single-cell steel superstructure on which the motorway runs consists of a steel box girder with a protruding roadway. The bridge is 935 meters long and 30.5 meters wide, with spans of the individual bridge spans of up to almost 220 meters. The maximum height of the lane above ground is 136 meters. This makes it the second highest motorway bridge in Germany after the 185 meter high Kochertal Bridge in Baden-Württemberg.
Around 28,000 motorway bridges in Germany are in need of renovation or have to be completely replaced. Cracks have now been found on the body of the Moselle viaduct built in 1972, the second highest motorway bridge in Germany. This is due to the stress caused by the increased heavy goods traffic. In addition, the A61 is one of the alternative routes for the closed A45 near Lüdenscheid - there the framework detail bridge is so dilapidated that it is no longer passable.