Investigators continued to probe the cause of a bridge collapse in Vestfold near Holmestrand on Monday. Repairs or replacement of the sagging bridge structure may take months and cost at least NOK 100 million.
The bridge, which suddenly sagged Monday afternoon after the ground slid out from underneath its pillars, handled at least 10,000 cars a day, many more on summer weekends, as part of the major E18 highway running south from Oslo. No one was injured when a portion of the bridge gave way, thanks to alert truckers and motorists who braked in time, but the collapse has caused major traffic problems for both motorists and the residents of Holmestrand, where all thru-traffic has had to be diverted.
Highway department officials have told reporters they they can’t say whether the bridge can be repaired or whether it will need to be torn down and replaced. Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said state funding would be provided quickly, but the project will still take time even with crews working day and night.
The bridge collapse has also set off concerns for other bridges around Norway that were built over ground containing a high degree of clay. “We have a lot of unstable ground here in Norway,” Børre Stensvold, bridge director for the highway department, told newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday. “It’s not unusual that we have to build bridges over it.”