In 1949, the Hungarian capital celebrated the reconstruction of Budapest Chain Bridge, which had been dreamed by the „greatest Hungarian” István Széchenyi 100 years earlier. Its renovation was indispensable 75 years ago after the retreating Germans blew up the bridge on 18th January 1945.
In 2020, the bridge is in poor condition again. It is not surprising as bridges are usually designed for 100 years, whereas the steel structure of Budapest Chain Bridge was renovated more than 100 years ago. Those steel components that remained intact during the Second World War were taken out of the Danube and reutilised for 1949’s reconstruction.
According to Adrián Horváth, leader of the constructing group responsible for the renovation project –
„we are pretty much in the eleventh hour”.
He also revealed that the last comprehensive restoration work on the bridge was realised in 1988. Since then, the ink used at that time has become unable to provide even the minimum corrosion protection.
Therefore, the renovation cannot wait any longer; otherwise, one of the best-known Hungarian symbols will teeter on the edge of collapse.
Therefore, the reconstruction of the bridge is urgent. However, the question is: what to do with it? Can it be used as a road bridge later on, or given to the pedestrians, or converted into a combined bridge?
According to the Mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony, people must be asked to make a decision.
According to István Tarlós, former Mayor, the Chain Bridge cannot be used as a footbridge as tourists cannot enjoy the panorama due to the chains and holders. This is true. On the other hand, the Chain Bridge has the smallest traffic of all Budapest bridges, so it is the one that could be converted into a footbridge.
As the Hungarian news portal atv.hu reports, the idea is not supported by the Urban and Suburban Transit Association; according to which, the bridge is indispensable in the case of BKK buses, ambulances and firefighters; regarding taxis, the introduction of tolls might be considered.
The question is: who takes responsibility for the renovation project – the government or the capital?
What makes the situation complicated is that the bridge pertains to the capital; therefore, Capital Management would be responsible for the renovation. Still, it has no financial resource to realise the project; whereas the government does not want to finance it. As a result, the parties are pointing fingers at each other, without stepping forward.
According to the expert, the bridge is in such a bad condition that renovation must be carried out even if it will work as a footbridge in the future.