Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

‘Unique’ bridge still threatened

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Engineer Wang Wei-min, center, speaks at a press conference about the Bitan bridge at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Professors, engineers, civic groups and others yesterday again urged the New Taipei City (新北市) Government to list the suspension bridge at Bitan (碧潭) scenic spot as a cultural heritage site to protect it from possible damage from a nearby urban renewal project.

Chuang Ting-yu (莊婷宇), a member of the Organization of Urban Re-s (OURs), said engineers have reported that the planned construction of a number of 26-story apartment buildings could damage the 76-year-old bridge, maybe even causing it to collapse.

“No matter which option is adopted — either digging 15m underground about 1m from the closest bridge pier, or moving the bridge pier forward by up to 4m — the bridge will be destabilized,” she said.

The protesters in February halted the planned construction for a few months by applying to have the bridge assessed as a cultural heritage site. However, the local government only agreed to list it as a temporary cultural heritage site and is to review today whether it should be a permanent site.

Perng Ming-hwei (彭明輝), a former National Tsing Hua University professor, said the Bitan suspension bridge is listed among “Taiwan’s eight views and 12 scenic spots” and is an important site to many people living in the area.

“The construction project will destroy both the historic and natural scenery in the area,” he said, adding that it is unfair that while more than half of the project’s base is on public land, the planned apartment buildings will only provide access to a few people and will mar the natural scenery that attracts visitors to the area.

Liou Gin-show (劉俊秀), a professor at National Chiao Tung University’s Department of Civil Engineering, said the bridge was built and designed by Taiwanese engineers in 1937 and is the last remaining bridge featuring a unique tungsten steel ball-bearing design in the world.

Peitou Association chairperson Dai Show-fen (戴秀芬) added that many Taiwanese writers and painters have created works that include the Bitan suspension bridge.

“If we don’t save the bridge, no amount of money can buy its history and our collective memories back,” she said.

Citing other old bridges that have been listed as culture heritage sites, such as a bridge in Nantou County built of stones mixed with glutinous rice in 1941, the old Dasi Bridge in Yilan built in 1941 and the Sanxia Arch Bridge in New Taipei City built in 1933, a local resident surnamed Lin (林) said that the Bitan suspension bridge also deserves to be listed as a culture heritage site given its age and the skills involved in its construction.

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