Old Sava Bridge
Old Sava Bridge
Стари савски мост
Stari savski most
|Maintained by||Putevi Srbije|
|Total length||430 m (1,410 ft)|
|Width||40 m (130 ft)|
|Longest span||157 m (515 ft)|
Old Sava Bridge (Serbian: Стари савски мост, romanized: Stari savski most) is a 430-metre-long (1,410 ft) and 40-metre-wide (130 ft) bridge, crossing the river Sava in Belgrade, Serbia. It is the smallest road bridge in the Serbian capital and is used both for car and tram traffic. The main span between the two pillars of this tied arch bridge is over 157 m (515 ft) in length. Two bus lines and three tram lines of Belgrade public transport use the bridge.
During the World War II, Germans called the bridge "Prince Eugen". After 1945, citizens called it simply "German bridge" or "Schwabian bridge" and, as other bridges were built across the Sava, the name "Old Sava bridge" replaced it. Today, after almost 35 years of tram traffic over it, many Belgraders colloquially call it the "Tram bridge". None of the names were official.
A citizens association called "Imamo plan" with the support of the Savski Venac municipality is collected signatures for the initiative of naming the bridge after Miladin Zarić, the brave teacher who saved it. City commission which names the city streets, squares and bridges, in early 2017 neither accepted nor rejected the proposal.
Construction and World War II
The bridge was built in 1942, during the German occupation, because the only remaining bridge crossing the river Sava at that time was demolished. For that reason, the purpose of the bridge was transportation between the two river banks. The construction of the bridge was planned to be installed over the Tisa river near Žabalj, but the demolition of the King Aleksandar bridge by the Germans during the bombing of Belgrade on 6 April 1941, led to the installation of the construction over the eight pillars on the Sava river. It was cut in pieces and transferred to Belgrade. The bridge was projected and built by the de:C.H. Jucho company from Dortmund, Germany.
It was the only big European bridge that was not demolished during the German withdrawals. The Ludendorff Bridge across the Rhine, famed "bridge at Remagen", Germans also failed to destroy, but it was so damaged, that it collapsed in March 1945, soon after being captured by the Allies.
In October 1944 the German Army started to retreat from Belgrade and on their way, they planned to mine the bridge. Miladin Zarić, a teacher who lived near the bridge, watched for several days where Germans placed the explosives. On 20 October, as the Red Army approached, he went to the bridge and decided to risk his life and save the only connection between Central Serbia and Syrmia. Under the third pillar he noticed wooden casings filled with explosives and the fuse was already burning. He grabbed the spade which was next to the dead German soldier nearby and repeatedly hit the fuse until he cut the wire.
The bridge had a wooden driveway until 1964, when the planners suggested the reconstruction of the bridge to the mayor Branko Pešić. After a five-year reconstruction a new concrete panel was placed in 1969. After opting against the construction of metro, despite developing the project for over a decade, in 1984 the tramway tracks were laid over the bridge and the concrete panel was replaced with the steel one.
The traffic on the bridge has always been minor compared to the other bridges crossing the river, especially until the 1990s, due to the bad access to the bridge on the Novi Beograd side. It was one of the main reasons why the vast reconstruction of the bridge did not start until 13 October 2007 and was finished on 31 March 2008. The reconstruction included new traffic signals, poured asphalt, fences and decorative lighting. The capacity of the bridge was increased to 30,000 vehicles per day.
In March 2016, mayor of Belgrade Siniša Mali announced the massive reconstruction of the bridge, slated to begin in the late 2017. In the next 15 months, both Mali and the city architect, Milutin Folić, explained that the project was to include the widening of the bridge with one extra car lane in each direction and separate tram tracks. The metallic arch construction was supposed to be cut and elevated above the traffic lanes, effectively making the bridge on two levels and the documentation asked for the bridge's specific metal arch to be preserved. Upper level was to be turned into the pedestrian and bicycle paths with lush vegetation. Ending constructions were to be replaced and instead of the main bridge span one pillar with the joint beam was projected. Width of the navigation path on the Sava river at the bridge's main span was to remain the same. They named the Tehran's Tabiat Bridge as an inspiration.
However, in May 2017, after the city publicized the project papers, it was obvious that all the time they wanted to demolish the bridge completely and build a new one, even though they publicly talked about the reconstruction. Mali and Folić now claimed that the bridge was obsolete, unsuitable for traffic, with rotten wooden piles and obstructing the river traffic. Former condition, that the arch must be preserved was watered down into the suggestion that the new bridge should resemble the old one, but a day later Folić said that it is just a recommendation and that city doesn't have to follow it, also trivializing the bridge itself labeling it "just one of many generic German bridges". Citizens objected immediately, organizing a petition and claiming that the bridge has a traditional and historic value, as the only bridge that Germans wanted to destroy during the war, but failed to do so..
Engineer Ljuba Kostić, who constructed several bridges, including the Pavlovića Ćuprija on the Drina, criticized the project. He said that if the bridge didn't obstruct the river traffic for 75 years, it will not start now, plus, the other bridges in Belgrade area, in Obrenovac, Ostružnica (both on the Sava) and Pupin Bridge (on the Danube), all have pylons in the river and none of them prevents the traffic. He also addressed the wooden piles, saying that they are made of oak wood which is protected and can last almost forever. Plus, there are techniques to preserve them anyway, citing the example of Venice in Italy, which is mostly built on wooden piles. He also considers that the steel construction is an advantage, as the bridge can easily be widened, like the Branko's Bridge was in the 1950s, plus the bridge has a historic value. Architect Branislav Jovin, who projected and reconstructed many of the Belgrade's landmark features (original Belgrade Metro project, Mostar interchange, Autokomanda, Knez Mihailova) considers that the bridge is not important for the traffic anyway, but it could be a pedestrian one. They both agreed that the city government is throwing money on unnecessary projects.
In another confusing statement by the city architect Folić, he said that the bridge will not be removed, that it will remain at the same place, but it will get a new shape, repeating what he was saying previous year and a half. A commission will decide whether they will keep the existing arch or the bridge would look completely different. Folić admitted that the city's Institute for the culture monuments protection suggested for the original arch to be preserved, but he personally is confident that the commission will take in account that it is an architecturally unimportant German military bridge which, Folić is sure, will soon become unsafe. A new project of the futuristic white bridge was unveiled on 15 June 2017. Mayor Mali stated that the old bridge will not be demolished, but moved to another location which is still not chosen, as a pedestrian bridge. However, engineer Aleksandar Bojović, who was a member of the jury which chose to demolish to old bridge and selected the new one, said that comprehensive analysis is needed to see how it will be dismantled and moved, that a new location has to be selected and whether it will be profitable.
Kostić, who is also the president of the citizens association "Our bridges", pointed out that the original idea of widening the bridge would cost half of what the chosen project will cost in the end. In her essay "Civilization of insensitivity", Aleksandra Pavićević from the Institute of Ethnography of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts called the planned demolition "autodestructive" and "deranged, dissipating idea". Architect Dragoljub Bakić noted that, while the expansion of the bridge would be the most expensive and complicated solution, what is the problem with building the twin bridge next to it. Based on what some of the city officials said, Bakić concludes that they don't want to have clinking, noisy trams passing next to their luxurious pet project, Belgrade Waterfront.
Mali announced that the citizens will decide where to move the bridge, but he gave an idea to move it to Zemun, as the pedestrian bridge to the protected area of the Great War Island. In an article "Cloud over the Great War Island", Aleksandar Milenković, member of the Academy of Architecture of Serbia, opposed the motion. He expressed fear that having in mind the "synchronous ad hoc decisions of the administration", the reaction should be prompt as the seemingly benign idea is actually a strategically disastrous enterprise (concerning the protected wildlife on the island). He also suspects that the administration in this case, just as in all previous ones, will neglect the numerous theoretical and empirical guidelines. In December 2017, the works on the bridge were pushed from 2018 to the spring of 2019. As the contract for the conceptual design was signed only in February 2018 and the deadline is set in 10 months, the construction was pushed to the second half of 2019, despite the continuing criticism of the entire idea of demolishing and relocating the old bridge. Only then the cost will be known, too. Also, the project was described as a blatant copy of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi.
Deputy mayor Goran Vesić announced in August 2018 that the removal of the bridge will start on 1 June 2019, after the installation of the tram tracks across the Ada Bridge is finished. In March 2019, city urbanist Marko Stojčić said that the bridge will be placed as an extension of the Omladinskih Brigada Street, in the New Belgrade's Block 70-A, and that it will connect it with Ada Ciganlija. Deadline was set to 2021.
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- Dejan Aleksić, Daliborka Mučibabić (6 December 2017), "Izgradnja novog savskog mosta - na proleće 2019" [Construction of the new Sava bridge - on spring 2019], Politika (in Serbian), p. 17
- Dejan Aleksić (24 January 2018). "Idejno rešenje za novi lučni most - krajem godine" [Conceptual design for the new arch bridge - at the end of the year]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 15.
- Beta (4 February 2018). "Kovačević: Ideja o premeštanju Savskog mosta - nebuloza" [Kovačević: Idea of relocating the Sava bridge a nonsense] (in Serbian). N1.
- "Đilas: Neću dozvoliti da se sruši stari tramvajski most" [Đilas: I will not allow the demolition of the old tram bridge] (in Serbian). N1. 31 January 2018.
- Jovan Popović (2 February 2018). "Stari savski most broji poslednje dane" [Old Sava Bridge numbering its last days]. Politika (in Serbian).
- Milan Janković (5 February 2018). "Polemika oko rušenja Starog savskog mosta" [Polemics about the demolition of the Old Sava Bridge]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 15.
- Maja Nikolić (6 February 2018). "Savski most "beskućnik", menja ga inspiracija iz Abu Dabija" ["Homeless" Sava Bridge, replaced by the inspiration from Abu Dhabi] (in Serbian). N1.
- Milan Janković (30 July 2018). "Премештање Савског моста следећег јуна" [Relocation of the Sava Bridge next June]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 13.
- Daliborka Mučibabić, Dejan Aleksić (7 March 2019). "Stari savski most će od 2021. povezati Blok 70a i Adu Ciganliju" [Old Sava Bridge will connect Block 70a and Ada Ciganlija from 2021]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 14.