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Portimão bridge is not falling down

portimaooldbridgeAn underwater survey of Portimão’s old bridge has concluded that the 139-year old structure is in good condition after its refurbishment five years ago.

The visual check-up on the support pillars was carried out by a specialist diving team from the newly created Center for Underwater Inspections which as a division of Estradas de Portugal has the certification to undertake all types of inspections of the nation’s bridges.

The 332 metre wide Portimão bridge was built in 1875 by the Compagnie de Fives-Lille, a company created in 1861 in the Fives district of Lille, France to specialise in the construction of equipment for railroads and metal bridges.

The bridge was closed in 2007 after an inspection concluded that it was at risk of collapse as cracks had been spotted in the supporting pillars and immediate closure was ordered, pending repairs.

Days turned into months and months into into years with the bridge closed to vehicles causing a high degree of local annoyance as Estradas de Portugal seemed unconcerned of the effects this delay was having on the town centre, tourism and those commuters that had to go the long way around to cross the river using the 1988-1991 cable-stayed bridge.

Such was the outcry that the bridge was reopened during the peak summer season in 2008, but then was shut again until the contractors finished the work in July 2009. The final cost was alleged to have been €3,800,000.

The completion of the current inspection results from the "normal cycle of underwater inspections made of all structures with underwater elements, as stipulated in the Conservation Management System."

Five years after the extensive remedial work, Portimão’s drivers and pedestrians can cross the venerable structure without any fear it will collapse beneath them.

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