Bridge overloaded with traffic

A STUDY has revealed that Lisbon’s famous landmark, the 25 de Abril bridge, is taking more traffic than it was designed for.

The Lusoponte study has issued a warning that traffic flows over the bridge, which was built in the late 1960s, is running at 159 per cent above capacity.

The same study has warned that it is imperative that a third bridge be built across the river Tejo to relieve the suspension bridge structure.

However, four environmental groups, Geota, Quercus, the Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (Portuguese Society for Bird Studies) and Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (Portuguese Nature Protection League), all say the claims are a false necessity because of the pressure to construct a third bridge to serve Lisbon’s new international airport.

The environmental groups say that the Portuguese Engineering Laboratory (LNEC) itself has said that the Ponte Vasco da Gama is enough to satisfy projected traffic flows to the new airport at Alcochete.

The Lusoponte/Gestiponte study stated that in 2007 motorists crossing the 25 de Abril bridge at morning rush hour lost an hour waiting to get across when capacity was 190 per cent over its design limit.

The study has also projected that once the new airport is up and running it will take commuters up to two hours and 20 minutes to reach the airport because of traffic tailbacks at the bridge.

It went on to conclude that motorists lost a total of 160 hours a day because of queues and burnt up 320 million euros per year in fuel.

The document stated that two thirds of motorists crossing the bridge did not arrive directly in Lisbon but ended up on the CRIL ring-road.

Lusoponte, the private company that manages and collects bridge tolls, is arguing that another road and rail bridge should be urgently built between Algés and Trafaria.

The 25 Abril Bridge is to be strengthened and repainted in 2009 after a structural survey carried out by US engineering and construction consultants Parsons suggested essential but non urgent preservation works needed to be carried out.

The Vice President of Estradas de Portugal, Eduardo Gomes, admitted over the weekend that the bridge needed in-depth structural works and had that the government had been aware of this since 2004.

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