The Uncertain Cost of the Emergency Repair of Prague’s Libeň Bridge

Petr Horník

Prague’s Technical Administration of Roads (TSK) cannot estimate the cost of supporting the partially closed Libeň Bridge and related measures necessitated by its current state of emergency. Years ago, the proposed demolition and construction of a replica was estimated at hundreds of millions, while the preservation and reconstruction of the bridge is currently priced at 2.1 billion crowns.

During an inspection of the Libeň Bridge after slightly stronger January frosts, it was discovered that the load-bearing metal plates, which ensure the functionality of the entire system, are out of their correct position, and the concrete support elements are crushing. As a result, the bridge was partially closed last Thursday, January 11th. TSK is now dealing with the bridge’s support and further measures to restore traffic along the entire length of the structure.

Discussion about the bridge, which was built in 1928 and has never been repaired, being in a poor, even emergency condition, has been ongoing for years. The current situation and additional costs from taxpayers’ pockets are due to the long-term inability of Prague politicians to agree on whether to repair the bridge or demolish it and build a replica.

The demolition and new bridge construction would likely have been the cheapest option. When this variant was advocated in 2018 by the then Deputy Mayor of Prague for Transport, Petr Dolínek (ČSSD), the amount was then talked about roughly 600 million crowns. Today, it would be more due to the increase in the cost of labor and materials. Experts then supported the variant.

In contrast, due to the historical significance of the unique Cubist bridge, a part of the city council coalition or the “Do not demolish and expand Libeňák” initiative, behind which stood Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě), Deputy Mayor for Transport in the years 2018 to 2023, rejected it.

Whether this will be the case is now a question, as well as the current extra costs caused by years of hesitation and not dealing with the technical condition of the bridge.