Tuesday 28.06.2022

50 Years Kurt Schumacher Bridge in Mannheim

The construction of the approximately 2-km-long Mannheim-Ludwigshafen North Bridge (Kurt Schumacher Bridge) began in 1968 and the bridge was inaugurated on 28 June 1972, linking the centers of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen; its design and construction were complicated by numerous approaches and exits as well as constraining points in the port areas on both sides [1]. To make room for the bridgehead on the Ludwigshafen side, the old terminus station located directly on the Rhine was converted into a through station from 1962 to 1969 [2] - "within time and budget".

The single-span bridge has a main opening of 287 m made of steel, while the foreshore openings on the Mannheim side are made of prestressed concrete to avoid large uplifting forces - a combination of the two materials used here for the first time, which was later chosen very frequently [3].

The cross-section of the superstructure has a width of 36.9 m and consists of 2 cantilevers of 5.05 m, 2 hollow boxes of 7.8 m and an 11.2 m wide slab in between. Towards the Ludwigshafen pier, the bridge width increases to 51.9 m. This requires 2 additional main girders and the light rail trough is lowered relative to the road.

The 71.5 m high steel pylons are splayed above the urban railroad and rest on rectangular neo-pot bearings; the pier has a caisson foundation - the last in a Rhine bridge. The concentrated cables consist of 2 to 10 parallel wire bundles with 295 wires Ø 7mm each made of St 140/160.

Due to the large cable distances, an auxiliary span was required for the cantilever and there were deformations of 2.4/-1.9 m compared to the final position before/after retraction of the cables.

Because of the complicated system, load tests were made with the least expensive load - American tanks on flatbed trailers. One-sided loading resulted in a lower transverse inclination than calculated, since the spread of the cables was not taken into account in the calculation.

Based on an optimistic soil survey, the piers of the side openings were founded flat; this led to considerable settling and canting of the piers in the longitudinal and transverse directions, which required extensive remedial work even during construction.

The adjacent bridge over the Mühlauhafen has a central opening of 139 m and two special features: it has widenings for the connection to the - to this day not realized - western bypass, and the sidewalks and bicycle paths are lowered in this area.

LAP was responsible for the design and inspection of the entire bridge train from the abutments in Mannheim to the dividing pier in Ludwigshafen, making the bridge the office's largest bridge project to that date.

Reiner Saul

[1] Kurt- Schumacher-Brücke, Sonderdruck zur Verkehrsübergabe am 28.Juni 1972

[2] Stahlbau 1970, S. 257-267 und 306-312

[3] Stahlbau (1973) 42 S. 97-105,138-152 und 161-172.