The New Danube Bridge is unveiled – Bridge to nowhere?
The Galvan Bridge, which will be constructed in 10 years at the earliest, will serve primarily the demands of the Olympics, not the real needs of the citizens of Budapest.
István Tarlós, lord mayor, and Balázs Fürjes, government commissioner, presented the plans for the next passage over the Danube, the Galvan Bridge, last week. The crossover connecting the 11th district with the nothingness of the Csepel mountaintop as well as the industrial sites of Illatos Street will be built, according to plans, in the depressingly far away future, between 2028 and 2033.
There are valid reasons for building a bridge between South Buda and Csepel, as there is no direct route between the Csepel Island and Buda within the city boundaries at present – István Tarlós is right about that.
Balázs Fürjes’s argument is likewise acceptable, claiming that – since the new bridges of Budapest are built alternatingly in the north and the south – following the 2008 inauguration of the Megyer Bridge, it is now the capital’s southern part’s turn.
It can, and should, be argued, however, whether it is really the Galvan Bridge that is the most needed construction. Up until the submission of Budapest’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics, most experts agreed that, in the southern part of Budapest, the Albertfalva Bridge should be prioritised. So much so, because that would not connect locations-to-be-developed-in-the-future, but already existing, densely populated parts to the circulation of the city: Albertfalva, Csepel downtown and Pesterzsébet.
The only reason the Galvan Bridge jumped to the beginning of the list is the bid to host the Olympics; however, after the withdrawal of Budapest’s application, there is no justification for it to keep its position there. The planned date of the bridge to be inaugurated (more accurately, its very long period) is telling. Paris will hold the 2024 Summer Olympics, and the 2028 one will be organised by Los Angeles. However, the Prime Minister admitted himself that he has not given up on hosting an Olympics, and is contemplating bidding to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games. (How the government is preparing for the 2032 Games was discussed in detail by Magyar Narancs in April – ed.).
Of course, from the buildings to-be-built-no-matter-what for the non-existent Olympics, the bridge is the least crazy. It is important to underline that the Galvan Bridge is useful since the passage itself – so even without the dreams about the Olympics – would encourage the development of the parts of the city that are not yet made the most out of, neither by degree nor by manner. The criticism only refers to the order of constructions, since the Albertfalva Bridge is long awaited by the inhabitants of the concerned territories, while the societal requital of the Galvan Bridge can only be realised in the medium or long run.
In terms of urgency, the Galvan Bridge is not even second but only third in line, as the Aquincum Bridge to connect Óbuda and Újpest and to be built next to the Újpest Railway Bridge, or, as most people know it, the Northern Connecting Railway Bridge, is also a decades-long promise. And, like the Albertfalva Bridge, it would connect structured and densely populated areas.
There would be no problem with the 2033 inauguration of the Galvan Bridge, of course, so long as the remaining one and a half decades would produce at least one, or even two Danube passages in Budapest.
Although Balázs Fürjes claims that a new bridge is built in Budapest every 20-25 years on average, this would be inaccurate to take as a guideline.
Our youngest bridge, the Megyer Bridge – only in a small part having a public function and serving more the traffic by-passing the capital – was completed 10 years ago, so it is high time to continue.
Of course, independently of the Galvan Bridge, it would be best if the urban development would not be determined by the politicians hobbies but by the needs and wants of the citizens and visitors of Budapest.
Translated by Anna Wynn
Visual: UNStudió and Buro Happold Engineering