European experts’ report highlights the urgent need to save and rehabilitate Zogu’s Bridge in Albania
In a technical report issued today, experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute highlight the urgent need to stabilise and rehabilitate Zogu’s Bridge in Albania, listed among the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe for 2022.
“This is a worthwhile and challenging rehabilitation project which needs to be implemented urgently to save the emblematic Zogu’s Bridge from collapse. Recent arrangements and proposals to achieve this have so far been sound, but major challenges remain both to define and then to complete the works on time. These efforts should extend in due course beyond the immediate preventive measures to a complete rehabilitation of the bridge to allow safe and appropriate use of the bridge, thereby enhancing its industrial heritage and scenic value. The centenary of the opening of the bridge is in 2027 and this could be a suitable target for its full rehabilitation”, the report emphasises.
Zogu’s Bridge is an exceptional structure of national and international importance. It crosses the Mat River and was opened in 1927 with six bowstring arches in reinforced concrete of innovative design. It now comprises five arches as the northern span was destroyed at the end of World War II. The bridge has degraded badly since it was excluded from the national road network in 1978 being unsuitable for modern traffic. In 1999 the bridge was recognised as a National Monument and ownership was transferred from the Directorate of Road Authority to the Institute of Cultural Heritage in the Ministry of Culture.
Zogu’s Bridge was nominated to the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2022 by Emarilda Leti, Head of the local NGO Sebastia based in Luc, with the support of Professor Lida Miraj, representative of Europa Nostra in Albania.
Zogu’s Bridge was in poor shape when it was included on the list of 7 Most Endangered in March 2022; but its condition got dramatically worse following a large flood in November 2022, when a pier supporting the bridge settled much further, creating a serious risk of collapse. Both facts helped to accelerate the authorities’ response and serious efforts are now being made to save the bridge from collapse and then to rehabilitate it. This process is at an early stage and several technical and other problems have been identified in the report.
The report was formulated on the basis of the outcomes of the expert mission in Albania undertaken between 6 and 11 February 2023. During the mission, Pedro Ponce de Leon, Architect and Council Member of Europa Nostra, and Peter Bond, Technical Consultant provided by the EIB Institute, visited Zogu’s Bridge and had meetings with the main stakeholders, including from the Ministry of Culture, the Technical Team from University Polytechnic of Tirana, the Albanian Association of Consulting Engineers, the Directorate of Albanian Road Authority and the Association Sebastia.