One may thing that the Spanish or World record-holding bridges must been built or projected in big cities, with important ports, wide and abundant rivers to cross; or in linear projects which have the need to cross reservoirs, valleys, etc. In this select group we have: the Constitución de 1812 Bridge, recently built in Cádiz, which provides access to the city, holding the record for the Spanish longest span with 540m, and the Worlds second highest gauge (69m); the Ingeniero Carlos Fernández Casado Bridge which crosses the Barrios de Luna Reservoir in León, which held for a long time the world record for the longest span for a cable-stayed bridge; the Montabliz viaduct, with the Spanish highest pillar with 145m. But none of these hold the height record, possessed since 2011 by the Castilla-La Mancha Bridge, built in Talavera de la Reina (Toledo), with 192m.
Anyone would make the same common question: Why a bridge with such dimensions is necessary at the second most important city in Toledo? Let’s take a look, first of all, at some data. The bridge length is 740m, 318m of them are from the cable-stayed beam, and the rest, viaduct. To hold the cables, a 192m pylon is built. It has 152 cables, reaching a length of more than 33km if they were all put together, weighing 1.785 tonnes, and the longest of them measures 410m. For the structure 72.108m3 of concrete and 10.100 tonnes of steel has been used. And its task is to bridge the gap between the two banks of the Tajo River and continue the encirclement over Talavera between the A-5 freeway and the N-502 road.
Anyone who travels through the A-5 freeway meets with a big tower during his approach to Talavera de la Reina. And many would ask which the job of such structure is? It is a shock because during some kilometres, nothing more than the tower is depicted nearby. Only someone who knows where he exactly is can say where the sight belongs, because from far away you cannot depict any other building, just fields, mountains and the tower. It is when you finally approach Talavera de la Reina the moment you realize what you see. Realize and compare with the surroundings. It is noted that at Talavera there are several high residential buildings, but none with the dimensions of Castilla-La Mancha Bridge. In fact, finally one figures out that it is a bridge. Then, the fact that the bridge is neither at the town centre nor in a peripheral populated zone is quite relevant. The bridge is easily depicted thanks to the fact that there is nothing built near its surroundings. So the question is made, what happens there to deserve such structure?
PHOTO 1: Bridge sighting from Cazalegas, 15km away
Well, the bridge was inaugurated in October 2011, after four years of work. A encirclement over Talavera de la Reina was planned to be built, to avoid drivers to get into the city centre while going from a road which comes from the Jara Region to the A-5 freeway, and vice versa. A two lane interurban way was planned, with the building as its star structure to cross the Tajo River. The economic situation was buoyant when the work promoter, the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha, decided to make a high investment to not only benefits with the project, but also to place Talavera de la Reina with a record-holding structure at that time. The total cost of the bridge rises to 73.469.917, 76€.
Today, the encirclement is half done, because of the economic crisis. The surroundings at the place are the typical for the places in where the urban growth has been completely stopped. Several roundabouts characteristic from Spain, to conduct a non-existent during several moments of the day traffic, because there are not any buildings nearby, just rural fields and some little exploitations to which you have to enter through a dirt road. The bridge has a balcony at his top, with a lift to reach it, which is currently closed.
PHOTO 2: Bridge’s and its surroundings panoramic view, with Talavera behind
Yet, with this information, was really necessary such an investment for an encirclement bridge? Is really appropriate this type of bridge and its dimensions?
The answer for the first question is immediate, several years ahead the start of the crisis in Spain. For sure, with many less millions the Tajo could have been crossed, due to the fact that it is quite wide but we are not talking about the width it has at its rivers mouth at Lisbon. And for sure a simpler and cheaper bridge could have been planned. Were the need to build an important bridge, for sure other much more modest alternatives could have been taken in mind.
At the end of the day, the work impact is really high. The extraordinary amount of money paid for it, the large costs it requires to maintain, which is one of the greatest people complaints. And what most impresses anyone, the visual impact it makes to its surroundings, a mainly rural place, in a medium sized city, in which nothing stands out, and where a monstrous structure has been placed, which has been named by some people: “the stab” or “the erect bridge”.
IGNACIO NIETO PEÑA
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
· MUCHOS CURIOSOS Y POCO TRÁFICO EN LA APERTURA DEL PUENTE ATIRANTADO: http://www.abc.es/20111018/local-toledo/abci-muchos-curiosos-poco-trafico-201110181224.html
· UN PUENTE A NINGÚN SITIO http://www.elmundo.es/espana/2014/09/28/542706e6e2704ec7158b4589.html
· BARREDA PRESENTA LA OBRA QUE CAMBIARÁ TALAVERA: http://www.lavozdetalavera.com/noticia.asp?ref=14923
· PUENTES ESPAÑOLES SINGULARES: http://www.jotdown.es/2013/02/puentes-espanoles-singulares/
· WIKIPEDIA: PUENTE DE CASTILLA-LA MANCHA: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puente_de_Castilla-La_Mancha