Bitan bridge at risk from building project: group

FALLING DOWN?:New Taipei City said it has no plans for demolishing the bridge, as engineering experts questioned its claims that the bridge needs renovation

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Feb 06, 2013 - Page 3

An urban renewal project near the famous suspension bridge at New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bitan (碧潭) scenic spot could damage the bridge’s structure and put it at risk of collapsing, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) said yesterday amid concern that the city may tear down the 76-year-old landmark.

The group cited a civil engineer, Wang Wei-min (王偉民), as saying that workers have been digging 15m deep for the construction of a 26-story building for an urban renewal project — only about 1m from the bridge’s support base — which could compromise the bridge’s structure.

The group also questioned the New Taipei City Government’s claim that the bridge needs to be renovated and its bases reconstructed.

During the bridge’s renovation in 2000, the city government said that the bridge could last until at least 2050, the group said.

Another examination commissioned by the city government from 2010 to 2011 also said the bridge was safe and did not need reconstruction, it added.

Wang said he suspected that the city government’s claims were meant to deceive and divert the public’s attention from its intention to tear down the bridge.

He added that any renovation or reconstruction might only make the bridge unsafe.

Liou Gin-show (劉俊秀), a professor at National Chiao Tung University’s Department of Civil Engineering, said that “aging” was not a problem for the bridge’s concrete structure.

As to having the cables replaced with new ones if the bridge’s bases have to be moved, Liou said the cables had already been changed during the renovation in 2000, and changing them again this year would be a waste of money.

Moving the bases closer to the river would also exert more pressure on the bridge’s towers, so that would mean having to reconstruct the bridge, he added.

National Taiwan University professor and TEPU member Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎) said the group would hold a Bitan suspension bridge photo competition, inviting people to submit photos of the bridge that may possibly go into history this year.

In response to the group’s allegation, the New Taipei City Government said that it has no plans at the moment of tearing down the suspension bridge.