Work is well underway on the 63 million Euro renovations of the old Pont Adolphe, the stone bridge that spans the beautiful Pétrusse Valley in the heart of Luxembourg City.
The bridge was named after Grand Duke Adolphe, the first monarch of Luxembourg from the House of Nassau-Weilburg, who ruled from 1890 until 1905. Although it is now over 100 years old, the Pont Adolphe is still known by locals as the New Bridge (Luxembourgish “Nei Bréck”); the “Old Bridge” is the Passerelle viaduct, which was built between 1859 and 1861 to link the rapidly-growing city centre to the area where the railway was already located.
In 1896, the Luxembourg government hired chief engineer Albert Rodange to design a new bridge. Rodange identified the future span’s position and drew up initial plans for a large stone viaduct, but as he lacked familiarity in bridge-building, the government invited someone with specific expertise in the field to help. Paul Séjourné, a Frenchman with many years’ experience designing similar viaducts in the south of France, was chosen for the job. His plans were audacious for the time: at 153m in length and with a central span of 84.65m, the bridge would become the largest stone arch anywhere in the world. To help support its weight builders had to employ reinforced concrete, a material that had only recently come into use, but the bridge was primarily constructed from locally-quarried sandstone. The first stone was laid on 14 July 1900, and it was completed just over three years later and inaugurated with great pomp and circumstance. Originally, the bridge carried both road and rail traffic: two railway tracks over the bridge formed part of the route from Luxembourg City to the northern town of Echternach, which was opened on 20 April 1904.
Since its construction, the bridge has become an unofficial national symbol representing the Grand Duchy’s independence, and it is now one of Luxembourg City’s main tourist attractions; however, after a hundred years of ever-increasing and heavier traffic and several short-term repairs, it was time for a major overhaul.
The redevelopment project is being carried out by local construction consortium Soludec Lux-TP. Soludec is part of the Luxembourg-based General Mediterranean Holding group, a strong and diverse multi-national organisation founded by the Iraqi-born British entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Nadhmi Auchi, whose activities range from construction and real estate, banking and finance, to hotel and leisure, IT, telecommunications and aviation.
Soludec is the perfect choice for the fondly-dubbed “healing” of the Pont Adolphe. The company, which recently celebrated its sixty-fifth anniversary, takes great pride in being an active part of the local construction industry. It lists among its main goals to be recognized as a major player in the Luxembourg economy, “able to anticipate, react and adapt to the trends of the current and future markets, and to educate its customers, partners and employees in the new technologies of sustainable construction”.
And since Luxembourg is a proud UNESCO World Heritage Site, the techniques being employed in the renovation of the Pont Adolphe are designed to preserve in the best way possible Séjourné’s beautiful original architecture.