Hoi An yet to decide how to save degraded 400-year-old bridge

By Dac Thanh   May 13, 2019 | 08:54 am GMT+7
Hoi An yet to decide how to save degraded 400-year-old bridge
Bridge Pagoda, an icon of Hoi An Ancient Town in central Vietnam, is on the verge of collapsing. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Authorities in Hoi An have yet to decide how to save the town’s iconic 400-year-old bridge that has become dilapidated and threatens to collapse.

Pagoda Bridge, built by Japanese traders in the 17th century and appearing on VND20,000 (nearly $1) currency bills as a national relic, has a pier built of bricks and mortar while the rest is made of wood.

Many of the connectors between the roof support and the column have rotted, and some beams that support the tiled roof have cracked and warped.

There are many cracks in the abutment section and chunks of mortar have peeled off. The bridge and a pagoda at one of its ends are separated by a few centimeters and here the roof is leaking, and rainwater has affected the wooden structure of the building.

Nguyen Chi Trung, director of Hoi An Center for Cultural Heritage Management and Preservation, said two of the bridge’s beams almost collapsed recently, and the center has reinforced them with wooden abutments.

"This is just a temporary solution to save this relic from collapsing. As for solutions to renovate the structure, they need approval from higher authorities."

In 2016 town authorities had planned to completely dismantle and rebuild the bridge after international experts agreed it was the best way to save it.

The bridge has undergone renovations seven times.

But authorities have yet to decide how to save the landmark, which attracts 4,000 visitors every day.

Local authorities in Hoi An now have to use wooden sections to reinforce the beams of the bridge. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Authorities in Hoi An now have to use wooden reinforcements to keep up the Pagoda Bridge. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Nguyen Van Son, deputy chairman of Hoi An, said many international experts have been consulted but no solution is in sight yet.

"This is a special relic, so we have to ask for permission from higher authorities. For now we could only stop at supporting the structure."

Pagoda Bridge was recognized as a national, cultural and historical relic in 1990. It spans some 18 meters (59 feet) over a canal that runs into the Thu Bon River.

Hoi An in central Vietnam was recognized as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 1998.

It is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam, attracting nearly five million visitors last year, including 3.7 million foreigners.

 
 
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