110-Year-Old Bridge Accidentally Blown Up After Engineers 'Forgot' To Get Approval

Permits? Who needs permits? - Gif: GRHeute via YouTube
Permits? Who needs permits? - Gif: GRHeute via YouTube

What kind of repercussions are there if you make a mistake at work? Maybe you pump the wrong gas for a driver in New Jersey, shred the wrong screenplay and break a budding writer’s heart or accidentally use soap on the Cybertruck production line leading to a massive recall. Whatever mistake you made, it can’t be as bad as the mess up the Swiss rail operator made when it blew up a 110-year-old bridge earlier this year.

Swiss rail operator Rhaetian Railway faced a dilemma earlier this year after surveys of an old bridge on its line found issues with its supports. For more than 100 years, the Castieler Viaduct had carried trains passing across a mountain gorge near Davos, Switzerland, however the damage that was found on the bridge’s steel structure proved to be terminal, according to a report from the New Civil Engineer.

In order to keep trains running through the region, a demolition order was passed for the 110-year-old bridge and a new span was planned for the area. However, lawmakers in the area and environmental experts in the region said that the bridge could only be taken down if demolition crews promised they wouldn’t blow it to smithereens with dynamite. But guess what, they did. As per the New Civil Engineer:


Controlled explosions were carried out on the 50m (160-foot) high two stone pillars of the old railway Castieler Viaduct, which was built between 1913 and 1914 and carries trains on the Chur-Arosa line in the mountainous canton of Graubünden.

The replacement single span steel bridge was already built and waiting near the old bridge ready to be slid into place within two weeks.

However, the Swiss Federal Office for Transport (FOT) has now claimed the railway company did not obtain the correct planning permission to use explosives when removing the original bridge.

The mess up has, understandably, caused outrage in Switzerland. Environmentalists are worried about the impact all that rubble will have on the surrounding ecosystems and many are just worried about the loss of a historic bridge. But how does a mess up like this happen in the first place? Well, it turns out it’s all about permits.

The rail company had been given the OK to destroy the bridge months earlier, but when it decided that dynamite was the best way to go about that it never sought new approval. As a report from British newspaper the Metro explains:

The train company said it ‘forgot’ to consult with the federal office.

After a construction company recommended the demolition for safety reasons and it had examined the environmental impact with other authorities and experts, the railway firm decided to press ahead.

They admitted they should have consulted the Federal Office of Transport again because the original application was made for destruction without dynamite.

But the damage is already done, so what repercussions will the rail company face for destroying the picturesque bridge? Well, that will all depend on the environmental impact the illegal blasting had on the area. The Swiss rail operator is now looking into that and will report back to local lawmakers.

In the meantime, however, the new bridge has already been slotted into place on the route and trains began traversing the gorge once again last month.

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