HISTORICAL INFORMATION ON THE BEUELER BRIDGE
On this page you will find further information about the Beueler Brücke from the Denkmal- und Geschichtsverein Bonn-Rechtsrheinisch e.V. (Monument and History Society Bonn-Rhine).
The Beuel Bridge
The Kennedy Bridge is one of three Rhine bridges in Bonn and connects Bonn's city centre with the district of Beuel on the right bank of the Rhine. It was built from 1946 to 1949 on the piers of the Old Rhine Bridge and was last renovated from 2007 to 2011.
The Old Rhine Bridge
Even before the construction of the first Rhine bridge around 1886, there was a ferry connection between the city of Bonn and the Community Vilich, from 1922 Beuel, however, could no longer cope with the increased traffic volume. In addition, there were repeated obstructions due to high and low water as well as fog and ice, which finally led to the conclusion that a bridge was indispensable.
In 1894, initial talks were sought with the Vilich municipality, which was to bear ten percent of the construction financing. After these talks failed, the city of Bonn decided to bear the construction costs of around 2.58 million marks alone. The exact positioning was also determined by the city of Bonn, which meant that the bridge on the right bank of the Rhine did not run exactly in the direction of the city centre of Beuel. Construction work finally began in April 1896 and lasted 33 months, so that the first Rhine bridge could finally be inaugurated on 17 December 1898. It had a total length of 432 metres and, with a span of around 188 metres, was the largest arched bridge at the time.
The total costs for the bridge construction amounted to four million marks, which were to be compensated by a bridge toll for vehicles and pedestrians. The dispute with the Vilich municipality eventually resulted in the bridge manikin, which is still attached to the Kennedy Bridge today. From 1902, the city's first electric tram also ran between the sides of the Rhine.
During the National Socialist era, the Old Rhine Bridge was renamed the "Klaus Clemens Bridge" after a Bonn SA man. On 8 March 1945, the bridge was blown up by the German military, which had retreated to the right side of the Rhine. After the demolition, ferries were used again to cope with the continuing high volume of traffic. The three ships "Beethoven", "Godesburg" and "Rheinperle" transported up to 20,000 people across the Rhine daily.
A last piece of the old bridge railing is located in Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Straße, where it has been processed as part of a property boundary and can be visited.
From the Old Rhine Bridge to the Kennedy Bridge
Due to the high volume of traffic, the reconstruction of the Rhine bridge was an elementary step on the way to a functioning infrastructure. As early as September 1946, Stahlbau Rheinhausen and Grün & Bilfinger began building a new bridge. The new beam bridge was built on top of the old river and land piers. The design with Rhenish basalt lava and Franconian shell limestone was taken over from the Old Rhine Bridge on the piers and outer walls. After 36 months of construction, the new Rhine Bridge was opened on 12 November 1949.
At that time, the bridge had a width of 18 metres and a length of 396 metres, with the central arch accounting for about 195.8 metres and the two outer half arches 99.2 metres each. There was a cycle path and footpath in each direction of travel, as well as two lanes of carriageway, with the tracks of the light railway also embedded in one of the lanes. The bridge manikin was also taken over from the Old Rhine Bridge and attached to the new bridge.
On 2 December 1963, ten days after the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, the new Rhine Bridge was renamed the "Kennedy Bridge".
Rehabilitation and current situation
As early as 2003, severe corrosion damage was detected underneath the footpaths, but this could be temporarily secured by installing wooden structures. However, after further damage to the steel structure and some riveted joints were found, it was decided to extensively renovate the bridge. In addition, the bridge was to be widened to prevent traffic congestion, especially for the light rail.
The rehabilitation, estimated at around 45 million euros, began in April 2007 and was to last three years. In the course of the renovation, the bridge was widened from 18 to 26.8 metres. Since then, there is only one lane each for individual traffic in addition to the footpath and cycle path, but with a width of 4.3 metres, it is easy to drive on for all means of transport.
The light rail tracks have been separately embedded in the middle of the bridge so that the railway can pass the bridge without obstructions. The construction could only be done with the help of floating cranes, which meant that the waterway had to be closed at times.
Complications with the construction company caused delays in the renovation process, so that the bridge could only be opened to traffic in November 2010. However, the work continued until June 2011, during which time there were still restrictions for pedestrians and cyclists. The footpaths had to be partially closed, as it was to be expected that the barriers would topple over, especially during special events such as "Rhine in Flames" or storms. However, a free bus transfer was arranged for citizens via the Rhine bridge.
In November 2010, the bridge received the engineering construction award from the Berlin publishing house Ernst & Sohn, making it one of the five best bridge and structural engineering projects in Germany.
In the course of the renovation, a sponsored solar system was installed on the south side of the Kennedy Bridge, which stretches along the entire length of the bridge and consists of 392 individual modules. According to the city of Bonn, this makes the Kennedy Bridge the only bridge over a waterway that generates electricity. The plant's output is 90 kilowatts and can thus generate electricity for about 20 households. The electricity generated is fed into the general power grid, with the feed-in tariff being donated to changing local organisations. The current output of the solar system can be read on a display panel on the bridge pier below the opera house.