26 September 2019

Iceland bridges: 3. Suspension bridge over Jökulsá á Fjöllum on Route 1

My journey took me east from the previous two bridges, following the Route 1 highway.

Iceland is well-supplied with large rivers, carrying meltwater from icecaps and glaciers. The Jökulsá á Fjöllum river appears wide but relatively unspectacular. However, the volume of water is substantial, as can be seen around 20 km to the north where the river spills over the enormous Dettifoss, reportedly Europe's largest waterfall.

Before there was a bridge here, the river could only be crossed by a ferry. The bridge was built in 1947, one of a number of suspension bridges completed within a 12 year period from 1945 to 1957, following Iceland's independence from Denmark.

The bridge is 171m long, with a main span 102m long and 3.7m wide. The steel ropes were supplied by British Ropes Ltd, and the steelwork was supplied and erected by Dorman Long.

The Icelandic roads authority have been planning a new bridge a little to the south of the existing structure, on the grounds that the existing bridge requires both speed and weight restrictions (lorries are forbidden by signs from travelling in convoy across the bridge). The new structure is proposed as a 5-span concrete box girder bridge, 230m long. Construction was due to start in 2015, but evidently it has been delayed.

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