Protesters plead for ancient bridge

By Lin Shu-hui and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Wed, Aug 01, 2012 - Page 4

Cultural activists and residents of Qionglin Township (芎林), Hsinchu County, yesterday filed an appeal with the Control Yuan demanding the preservation of an ancient stone bridge designated an “interim historical site.”

“Built in 1925 during the Japanese colonial era, the Chenggan Bridge was made of a mixture of concrete and Guanyin Rock extracted from Guanyin Mountain (觀音山) in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bali Township (八里) and without a single reinforcing steel bar,” Qionglin Township Promotion Association member Huang Wen-yuan (黃文淵) said.

Huang said that the bridge, which the Hsinchu County Government has planned to demolish because it is a potential cause of flooding in the county, had withstood the weight of armored vehicles, as well as the strikes of a host of typhoons and earthquakes, without cracking.

It is the most time-honored ancient stone bridge in the country, Huang said.

The county government is scheduled to tear down the ancient construction on the grounds that the bridge was the root cause of flooding downstream and posed a threat to residents living near the river flowing under it.

In a bid to postpone and scrap the demolition plan of the age-old bridge, academics and cultural activists have repeatedly petitioned for its designation as an “interim historical site,” which was answered by the county’s Cultural Affairs Bureau in April.

Liu Ming-yang (劉名揚), president of Qionglin Elementary School’s Parent-Teacher Association, said the county government would soon contract out the demolition project for the bridge, which was why they demanded Control Yuan members to safeguard the historical site.

Countering the county government’s claim that the bridge was the result of frequent inundations in the region, Liu, citing a report by the Second River Management Office of the Water Resources Agency, said that there was no record of flooding near the area before 1996, decades after the construction of the Chenggan Bridge.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) also cast doubts on the county government’s insistence on demolishing the bridge, saying it was for the mere purpose of spending the budget.

“The county government should preserve the bridge and not violate the laws by causing damage to historical sites,” Tien said.