Sideview of the bridge from the right riverside
|Official name||Панчевачки мост
|Total length||1,526.4 m|
|Longest span||162 m|
|Opened||November 7, 1946|
Pančevo Bridge or colloquially Pančevac (Serbian: Панчевачки мост, Pančevački most) is the only bridge over the Danube in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It was named after the northern Serbian city of Pančevo (in Vojvodina) which is connected to Belgrade by the road continuing from the bridge.
The bridge is located in the Belgrade municipality of Palilula, which is the only municipality in the city that occupies both banks of the Danube. Geographically, it connects two large regions of Serbia, Šumadija and Banat (Pančevački Rit). The driveways for the bridge begin already in the neighborhoods of Bogoslovija (roundabout at Mije Kovačevića street) and Ada Huja (Višnjička street) and direct approach begins from the Boulevard of Despot Stefan. The bridge spawns over the neighborhood of Viline Vode, the Danube (approximately at 1,166 kilometre of the river ) and lands on the Banat side in the neighbourhood of Krnjača, between the sub-neighborhoods of Blok Braća Marić and Blok Branko Momirov.
Construction of the original bridge began in 1933. On October 27, 1935 it was inaugurated by the Prince regent of Yugoslavia, Pavle Karađorđević  and named after the still minor King of Yugoslavia, Petar II (Most Kralja Petra II). After German attack on Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941 in the course of the World War II, Yugoslav army command decided to blow up all three existing bridges in Belgrade (two over the Sava and one over the Danube) in a vain attempt to slow down the German army advancement. The Bridge of King Petar II was destroyed in the night between April 10 and 11 1941.
Germans repaired the bridge for their purposes during the period of occupation 1941-1944. In spring of 1944 Allied Anglo-American bombing of Belgrade began. The bridge was hit and damaged in the bombings of April 16 and September 3, 1944. When Germans began to withdraw from Belgrade in October 1944, Germans destroyed the bridge themselves.
Reconstruction of the bridge began in 1945, upstream from the remnants of the destroyed supporting pillars. Plans were done by the 50 Russian engineers, headed by Vladimir Aleksandrovich Golovko (1897–1956), lieutenant general of the Red Army's technical troops. Joseph Stalin's orders were that they should build a provisory crossing rather than an expensive railway bridge, but Josip Broz Tito convinced him that proper bridge should be made. On November 7, 1946 first train passed over the new bridge and regular road traffic started three weeks later, on November 29. Originally, Tito named it the Bridge of the Red Army (Most Crvene Armije).
After 20 years, in 1965, the bridge had a last major renovation. Not counting the Đerdap dams on the Romanian border, Pančevo Bridge was the only bridge over the Danube in Serbia that was not destroyed by the NATO aviation during the bombing of Serbia from March 24 to June 12, 1999.
The original bridge was built by the German companies, Siemens-Baunnion GmbH from Berlin, and Luxemburgische Bergwerks und Hütten A.G. from Dortmund. First company supplied the pillars for the bridge. Work of these two companies was a part of the reparations Germany had to pay to Serbia for the damages committed during the World War I.
In 1946, the bridge was originally intended to be just a railway bridge but later it was opened for the road traffic, too. Today, it has two lanes in both directions for road traffic, and even though it was designed to have two rail tracks as well, at the moment there is only one rail track on the bridge.
Total length of the steel bridge is 1,526.4 meters, of which 1,134,7 meters is over the river bed. The height of the main supporting pillars is 18 meters.
Being the only bridge over the Danube in Belgrade as a result has a 150,000–200,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily. When bridge was rebuilt in 1946, Pančevački Rit (Belgrade section over the Danube), had a population of 7,998 (1948 Census), Pančevo 26,423 and Belgrade itself 388,246. By the 2002 Census, population is 72,704, 77,087 and 1,120,092, respectively.
After crossing into Krnjača, the bridge continues as a road which splits in two directions:
- Pančevo road, 16 kilometers to the east, which leads to the industrial town of Pančevo (after which both the bridge and the road are named) in the province of Vojvodina.
- Zrenjanin road, 77 kilometers to the north, which lead to the town of Zrenjanin, also in Vojvodina.
There are railway stations "Pančevački most" on the Belgrade, and "Krnjača", on the Krnjača side of the bridge. Both stations are part of Beovoz commuter rail which connects area between the town of Stara Pazova in Syrmia region of the Vojvodina, Belgrade and Pančevo as this entire area forms a wider metropolitan area of Belgrade.
After 2000, a general consensus was reached that new bridges in Belgrade are a necessity. Belgrade almost doubled after 1974 when the last bridge (Gazela) was built. As for the Pančevački Rit area, which experienced population growth by 10 times since Pančevo Bridge was built, things are getting even more serious as city government has plans (though a distant ones) to move Belgrade Port to the left bank and to began a project of "Third Belgrade" in this area with 300,000-400,000 inhabitants (first one is "Old" Belgrade in Šumadija, second is "New" Belgrade, Novi Beograd-Zemun in Syrmia).
At the moment, even this one bridge is considered to be in a fairly bad shape, as a result of the lack of maintenance and overuse. Public debate grew (not just about this bridge) in both experts and laymen circles, to the point of publicly expressing views in the mass media on a daily basis about future Belgrade bridges. City government plans to do a complete reconstruction of Pančevo Bridge and build three more bridges over the Danube, to relax the traffic over it. One bridge is supposed to be built downstream, to connect Belgrade suburb of Vinča to Omoljica in the Pančevo municipality. Second bridge is projected just 1.5 kilometers downstream from Pančevo Bridge and it will connect Ada Huja and Krnjača. Third bridge is to be built upstream and connect neighborhoods of Zemun and Borča. Until this last bridge is finished, city government proposed a ferry line instead.
However, as of December 2012, only the works for bridge Zemun-Borča have begun, scheduled to be finished by the end of 2013. Reconstruction of Pančevo Bridge was scheduled and postponed several times from 2006. So far, it as only announced how the reconstruction will be handled. It is supposed to last for 12 months. The rail traffic will be closed during that time. "Beovoz" would stop on the approaches to the bridge and buses would take passengers to the other side. But the bridge will never be fully closed for the road traffic, because it would cut the only connection of Belgrade across the Danube. Rail tracks will be temporary turned into a road tracks, which would mean the bridge will have six tracks in this period and two will always be closed for reconstruction. Freight traffic will be allowed only at night.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pančevo Bridge.|
- Beograd - plan i vodič, 3rd edition, "Geokarta", 2007, ISBN 978-86-459-0297-2
- Turističko područje Beograda, "Geokarta", 2007, ISBN 86-459-0099-8
- Glas Javnosti - Pančevački most u očajnom stanju
- "Pančevački most 1946. obnovili Rusi", Politika (in Serbian), 2008-04-12: 11
- Rađanje "trećeg Beograda"
- Doneto rešenje za Pančevački most