Poland

A recent visit to Poland has produced two fine bridges for the collection - the Dunajec River Bridge which actually crosses the international boundary into Slovakia, and the Bernatka Bridge over the River Vistula (Wisła) in Krakow.

The River Dunajec marks the border between Poland and Slovakia for 15 km and for about 8 km of this distance runs in a spectacular gorge. The gorge is famous for transport by raft, although this is nowadays purely a tourist attraction, rather than a serious mode of transport. An attractive trail for cyclists and walkers runs along the south (Slovak) side of the gorge. Access to the upper end from the Polish side of the river was very difficult until the construction in 2006 of a spectacular foot and cycle bridge linking the Polish village of Stromowce Niżne with the Slovak Monastery of  Červeny Kláštor. Although the bridge was built principally for the advantage of tourists, there is also a brisk traffic by locals across the bridge, driven by an advantageous difference in the price of alcohol on either side of the border - which tips first to one side, then to the other!

The bridge is of cable-stayed construction supported from a 27 metre high pylon on the Polish side, set at an angle of 75 degrees. The overall length of the bridge including approach ramps is 180 metres, whilst the deck is 112 metres long and 3.5 metres wide. Funding for the bridge came from EU and Poland; it appears that Slovakia was not prepared to contribute.

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The Bernatka Bridge is the first bridge to be built across the River Vistula (Wisła) at Krakow which is exclusive to cyclists and pedestrians. It links the Kazimierz and Podgórze districts on the site of the old Francizszek Jósef bridge. The bridge is named for Father Laetus Bernatek, a monk who at the turn of the 19th century initiated the building of the nearby Bonifratów Hospital. Completion was scheduled for the summer of 2010, but heavy flooding in May not only delayed completion but imperilled the whole project and there was a risk that the  bridge structure could have been swept away and damaged the next bridge downstream - the Most Powstańców Śląskich. See link (requires Quicktime installed on your computer)  It was unfortunate that my visit came shortly before the delayed completion so I was not able to enjoy walking over. The bridge was eventually opened on 30 September, 2010.

Bridge span is 145 metres; two decks - one for cyclists, one for pedestrians are suspended from a massive steel arch.

Although a general purpose road bridge, and therefore not qualifying for its own entry in this website, it is worth mentioning the spectacular Most Kotlarski which is about 1500 metres downstream from the Bernatka Bridge, beyond two other bridges.

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