Iron bridge on the Sava river



Once the third largest bridge in Austria-Hungary, with its arch still elegantly spanning the Sava river.

  • the third largest bridge in Austria-Hungary when constructed
  • today it is intended only for pedestrians and cyclists
  • it was once the only transport connection between Styria and Carniola
  • built in a record time of 11 months

The iron bridge over the Sava river was built in 1894 after more than thirty years of efforts by the people of Radeče. The steel structure of the bridge was made by the company Ignaz Gridl from Vienna, and the foundations were made by the builder Tršek from Šmarjeta near Rimske Toplice. 

Today, as a technical monument, the iron bridge is intended only for pedestrians and cyclists, but it was once the only transport connection between Styria and Carniola. 

At the time of its construction, it was the third largest bridge in the area of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was completed in a record time of eleven months. It has no support beams, it is 84 meters long, 6 meters wide and has a load capacity of 12 tons. Another important fact about the iron bridge is that all the joints are riveted.

Did/do you know...

... that the first initiative for the construction of the Radeče bridge was given as early as 1858?

From Litija to Sevnica, there was no bridge over which crossing the Sava river was possible. On March 13, 1858, the knight Gutmannsthal addressed a letter to the then Imperial-Royal Lieutenant Count Chorinsky, stating why it was necessary to build a bridge in Radeče. He also offered an interest-free loan of 15 to 16,000 guldens for the construction, which was not accepted by the then ministry.

The letter mentioned above is kept by the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. In the same year, the Imperial-Royal Provincial Government proposed to the Imperial-Royal Ministry of Trade "that a bridge be built between Radeče and Zidani most at state expense." The proposal was not heard, but the ministry was ready to support the construction if any of the entrepreneurs decided to do so. An entrepreneur's costs would be reimbursed later by collecting the bridge toll. 

... that the people of Radeče originally thought about building a wooden bridge?

In 1873, the Imperial-Royal Ministry of the Interior agreed to build a permanent wooden bridge between Radeče and Zidani most. The idea did not materialize, as the prices of oak wood and labor jumped. They were also afraid of big waters or floods that would easily destroy the wooden bridge.

Even in times when there was no bridge yet, the floods would stop the traffic for several days. At the same time, they foresaw problems in consolidating the wooden bridge due to the rocky terrain along the Sava, they were worried about the load-bearing capacity of the wooden bridge, the reduction of river flow due to the construction of "mares" (bridge pillars) and high maintenance costs. To avoid inconvenience and high costs, they eventually decided to build an iron bridge. 

... that they observed ferry traffic for several years before building the bridge? 

Traffic by ferry was observed for several years in a row at different times of the year. The cost of ferry fees was very high, it increased even more during the floods, and the bridge toll was lower on average. By observation, they calculated that the net income of the bridge could be 3,000 guldens a year. 

They also assumed that there would be more traffic across the bridge due to better connectivity. It was also found that traffic had increased with the construction of the railway and the ferry was no longer sufficient for daily needs. 

... that the foundations of the iron bridge carry more than just the bridge itself? 

In September 1893, construction work began and the first stone was laid on the Styrian side. As befits, of course, with proper ceremony, feasting, and gun salutes. On the Carniolan side, several plans, printed matter and a list of men responsible for the construction were built into the foundations of the iron bridge. 

... that, after all, the people of Radeče first built a wooden bridge over the Sava river?

During the construction of the iron bridge, in addition to the masonry work, a temporary wooden bridge began to be built. At the completion of the iron bridge construction, when it had served its purpose, it was demolished. The entrepreneur who set it up "sold the wood quite well in Croatia", according to the Slovenec newspaper in September 1984. 

... that the construction of the iron bridge cost 85,000 guldens?

Initially, the cost of construction was estimated at 90,000 guldens. The provincial engineer Hrasky drew up a plan for the bridge in 1889. However, as the Province of Styria was not ready to finance its share, the Municipal committee in Radeče decided to itself raise a third of the amount. Mr. Anton Raab, the noble of Rabenau contacted the provincial committee with a notice that engineer Hrasky had revised the plans. 

This reduced the cost to 80,000 guldens. In 1882, the Provincial Assembly passed an agrement that two thirds of the costs would be borne by the Province of Carniola, the Municipality of Radeče one third, and 10,000 goldinars were allocated for the construction from the state fund. The final cost was 85,000, according to the newspaper Slovenski narod (Slovene nation). It also states that "the ferry across the Sava river went to eternal rest".

... that the bridge has passed a load-bearing test under the watchful eyes of a special committee? 

Two days before the opening, the bridge was tested. According to the plans, it should be able to carry up to 460 kg/m2. From early morning to late evening, 50 pairs of horses and oxen rode across the bridge, transporting carts of gravel and stones from the Sava river. The bridge withstood the test perfectly, as it bent only 2 cm under the prescribed load.

In October 1894, Mayor Rižnar informed the Provincial Committee about the successful completion of the test and asked for cost reimbursement to the Radeče municipality in the amount of 294.20 guldens, which were paid forward to workers and drivers. An accurate record of all those who took part in the load-bearing test is still kept by the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. 

... how the iron bridge in Radeče is built?

The entire construction of the bridge is made as a truss or an assembly of rolled iron profiles. All joints are riveted to each other. The driving surface is made of oak planks. it looks like there was a reconstrucion or bridge reinforcments after the war. Welded patches are visible on the lower joints and vertical and diagonal beams. The bridge has not undergone any other reconstructions and has been preserved in its original appearance. 

At the time of its construction, the iron bridge in Radeče was the largest structure of its kind in Slovenia with a single load-bearing field. The permissible load of the bridge was 12 t, which can still be seen today from the old cast-iron inscription plates at both ends of the bridge. The bridge was a special technical achievement in its time, with various mentions in the scholarly literature as an original construction as well. 


KTRC Radeče

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