Modern bridge protects against flooding

Completion: 2023
Contractor: Consortium consisting of HABAU Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH, MCE GmbH and MSE WILHELM+MAYER Bau GmbH based in Vorarlberg
Client: Office of the Vorarlberg Provincial Government, Department of Road Construction.
Location: Austria

The Rhine bridge between Hard and Fussach was classified by the International Rhine Regulation (IRR) body as critical from a flood protection perspective. The Rhine Bridge is being demolished and replaced with a new bridge complete with ramps and redesigned intersections, in order to increase flood protection in compliance with the ‘Rhesi’ flood protection programme. This will lay the groundwork for expanding the Rhine River’s discharge capacity and renovating the bridge to meet today’s traffic requirements. The bridge is scheduled to be completed in early 2020.


More flood protection


A consortium consisting of HABAU Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH, MCE GmbH and MSE WILHELM+MAYER Bau GmbH from Vorarlberg, was awarded the contract within the context of a competitive bidding process. The companies were commissioned by the Office of the Vorarlberg Provincial Government, Department of Road Construction, with the demolition of the old bridge and the construction of a new functional bridge. Work started on 29 June 2020. Hubert Wetschnig, CEO of the HABAU GROUP, believes the future is bright: “We are proud to be able to harness our experience of constructing and project managing complex bridge constructions, enabling us to have such a positive impact on this project – which is so crucial for Vorarlberg. Despite using state-of-the-art measures, repeated flooding incidents have plagued the local floodplains in recent decades. This important puzzle piece in the international regulation of the Rhine will mean these disasters are soon to be a thing of the past.”


Ready for the future


As part of the construction, the site’s traffic areas will also be brought in line with modern traffic requirements. Two traffic lanes, a bus lane and a three- and a five-metre-wide foot and cycle path are planned for the 24.37-metre-wide and 255.6-metre-long bridge. On the Fussach side, plans are in motion for a Dorfstrasse underpass. On the Harder side, the ‘Rheinbähnle’ museum railway will also be routed under the bridge. In addition, street lighting and drainage systems will be upgraded in line with modern requirements. Once the traffic has been rerouted via the new bridge, the old bridge, dating back to the 1970s, will be completely demolished.


Technical project scope


The construction will take economic and socio-ecological factors into account and adhere to the Alpine Rhine development concept by the ‘International Governmental Commission for the Alpine Rhine Region’ and the ‘International Rhine Regulation’. It will also be necessary to adjust the ramps in Fussach and Hard to meet the raised gradients of the bridge. The existing Rhine Bridge will be replaced by a 255.6-metre-long, four-span steel composite bridge with a dissolved cable structure. The new bridge will be built upstream of the existing bridge. The construction will use a total of three piers, which are being erected in the foreshore of the Rhine outside the centre channel. The active bridge construction phases will primarily be scheduled for the winter months due to the particular characteristics of the floodplain.

We are proud to be able to use our expertise in the construction and project management of complex bridges in this measure, which is particularly important for Vorarlberg. Despite the most modern measures, flood ­ catastrophes in the floodplain have occurred again and again in the last decade. With this important piece of the puzzle in the international Rhine ­ regulation, this will soon be a thing of the past.
Hubert Wetschnig, CEO HABAU GROUP