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Rahmedetal Bridge on the A45: Blast date is set

The dilapidated and closed Rahmedetal Bridge near Lüdenscheid will be blown up on May 7th, 2023. Further motorway bridges along the Sauerland line on the A45 have to be rebuilt.

Since December 2021, the Rahmedatal Bridge, which is in danger of collapsing, has been causing traffic chaos in the region around Lüdenscheid - around 20,000 additional vehicles, including around 6,000 trucks, roll through the city every day. Traffic jams, noise and exhaust fumes not only affect the residents, but also the local economy.

The dilapidated bridge was originally supposed to be blown up in December 2022. However, the construction plans showed that the hollow and 70 meter high pillars were built differently than assumed. For a controlled blast, these pillars first have to be filled with concrete - this was not possible in the cold season. Accordingly, the date was postponed to May 7, 2023. Initial preparatory work such as slope stabilization and felling work is already underway. Several plots of land under the building were bought, and a fall bed will be raised in March. This will lead to further traffic restrictions. The district of Dickenberg/Rathmecke will be completely cut off from the city of Lüdenscheid at the latest by the time of the blast and the subsequent removal of the rubble. The reconstruction of the Rahmedetal Bridge should then take five years in an accelerated process.

But the danger on the Sauerland route A45 has not been averted with the new building. In December 2021 it became known that 60 valley bridges and smaller structures on the A45 would have to be replaced in the long term - depending on their condition, however, they still have a remaining useful life, which Autobahn GmbH dates to a period between 2026 and 2038. The new bridges are to be built next to the motorway and pushed in after completion, traffic should be able to continue running with as little disruption as possible.

The need has been known for some time

The new bridges are listed together with the six-lane expansion of the A45 in the Federal Transport Route Plan 2030, which was approved in 2016. According to the Autobahn GmbH, the construction measures there are classified as urgent. It has been known since 2011 that a large number of the bridges will have to be replaced in the long term.

Currently 15 bridges on the A45 are under construction or construction work will start in 2022. "This number shows that we are consistently working on making the A45 a high-performance connection again," says Elfriede Sauerwein-Braksiek, head of the Westphalia branch of Autobahn GmbH. But it is also clear that it is not possible to work everywhere on the route at the same time. "We take a close look at where bridges need to be replaced as quickly as possible. In other places, we buy time by strengthening bridges and thus extending their lifespan."

Trucks are the main cause of road damage

In the course of the bridge problem on the A45, similar bridges are now being examined for damage nationwide using laser scans. Results are not yet available. Especially the bridge structures that were built 50 to 60 years ago are holding up to modern traffic Since 1956, the total weight of trucks has increased from 24 to 40 or 44 tons in combined transport, the axle loads have increased from 8.0 tons in 1956 to 11.5 tons now.The higher the axle load, the higher the load the road. A three-axle truck (30 tons) causes the same damage as 15,000 cars with two tons each. Freight traffic on the road is expected to increase even further by 2030. In 2010, 3.12 billion tons were moved, in 2030 a figure of 3.63 billion

Almost 40,000 bridges in Germany are dilapidated

In 2018, the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) determined in a large-scale survey that 39,621 Long-distance road bridges in Germany are in an "insufficient" (condition grade 3.0 to 3.4) or even "inadequate condition" (3.5 to 4.0) (see slide show). At the time, the Rahmedetalbrücke had received a grade of 3.0.

By the way: Bridges in Germany are regularly inspected according to DIN 1076. There is a main inspection every six years, during which even parts that are difficult to access are checked – “hand-on”, as the saying goes. A simple test follows after three years, and there is a visual inspection every year. A special test is also scheduled after an accident, for example.


Dilapidated bridges in Germany have not only been an issue since the Rahmedetal Bridge on the A45 near Lüdenscheid was closed. The Sulzbach Viaduct on the A44 sagged in 2021, the Rhein Bridge on the A1 near Leverkusen has been a major construction site and a bottleneck for traffic for years after unsuccessful attempts at renovation. And the diversion traffic due to the A45 closure also caused damage to the Moselle viaduct, the second highest German autobahn bridge on the A61, due to the additional load.

As early as 2018, the Federal Highway Research Institute found in a survey that almost 40,000 bridges on German trunk roads are dilapidated and potentially dangerous. Is there a remedy in sight, yes. Anyone who regularly drives on German autobahns knows about the bridge construction sites, which are sometimes more and sometimes less obvious. Is there a fix in sight? No, the multi-year planning procedures simply take too long to get to the point. In addition, as in the case of the Leverkusen bridge, local initiatives are also delaying faster action.



2023-05-09 15:11:19

Good to see they have finally brought it down for safeties sake. The new bridge will benefit all in the future. Spectacular demolition!

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