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25th July 2009
Edition: 1020

Final countdown for Portimão iron bridge

Being closed to all traffic, except motorbikes, since November 2007, the Portimão old bridge is in its final stages of renovation for the reopening, scheduled for July 15th, with only paintwork and the placement of safety barriers remaining.

Built in 1876, the Portimão iron bridge lasted over two centuries before the first signs of decline became perceptible. After inspections were carried out in 2003, it was deemed that the bridge was in dire need of renovation, and it was also at this time that it was included in a list of five bridges in Portugal that needed a complete overhaul. Work was carried out to all six pillars in 2005 and the bridge was reopened to vehicles.

Two years later, in November 2007, after further inspections showed grave signs of deterioration, the bridge was once more closed for renovation after it was classified as “in serious risk of collapse”.

Since then, the bridge reopened temporarily for the summer of 2008 to reduce congestion in the busiest summer months.

National road company Estradas de Portugal (EP), in charge of the renovations, said the temporary reopening did not pose a risk as foundation strengthening had already taken place, adding that it had been planned from the beginning in order to “minimize the grief to users and local commerce, a situation that had been planned when the renovations began, showing EP’s concern for councils and the population in general” said Estradas de Portugal in a letter sent to The Portugal News.

Now, in July 2009, the bridge’s former glory has been restored and it seems as if the reopening will be made on time as final painting and the placement of barriers is currently taking place. Among the renovations were the reinforcement of the supporting pillars and foundations, repair and painting of the metallic structure, demolition of the concrete platform, replacing it with a new reinforced concrete platform, paving the platform, placing road signs and installing lighting along the structure.

With the closing of the bridge in November 2007, local residents of Parchal and Ferragudo have been forced to enter Portimão via the EN 125, adding several kilometres to their trip into/out of the city. They will definitely be pleased to know their shortest route will be accessible from Wednesday. It is estimated that the closure of the bridge has affected between 6,000 and 8,000 people a day.

Edition: 1018   -   original still there?

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