Arcing over the River Danube at the most Northern point of the capital, the Megyeri Bridge is the longest bridge of Budapest, and that of the whole River Danube. It is Hungary's first cable-stayed river bridge, part of the M0 highway around Budapest.
The demand for a new bridge in Budapest arouse as early as the end of the years 1900 with the aim to partly relieve the traffic of the Northern section of the capital. The planning of the bridge started in 1993. As time passed, several smaller alterations were made because of the changing norms and the stricter official and environmental regulations, but besides traffic and carrying capacity requirements great attention was paid to aesthetics, outer appearance and form, too.
In 2005 the National Motorway Co. Ltd. published an invitation of tenders on behalf of the Ministry of Economy and Transport. From the three valid bids the most favorable offer was given by the M0 Northern Danube Consortium made of two leading bridge and motorway construction companies (Hídépítő Zrt. and Strabag Építő Zrt.). At that time the official name of the bridge was M0 Northern Danube Bridge, the leading designer Mátyás Hunyadi.
The surrounding settlements hinder the beginning of the bridge construction
Some unexpected difficulties emerged as early as at the planning of Megyeri Bridge. Several settlements in the surroundings pleaded that the future bridge would dump huge traffic on the road network of both Újpest on the Pest side of the river and some settlements on the Buda side, therefore they required relieving roads. Others considered the building of the bridge according to the original plans to be risky because of environmental protection aspects. Finally the long lasting discussions between the Ministry of Transport and the settlements showed to be fruitful, and following several plan modifications the agreement was made to start the building of the bridge.
The work begins, the five bridge sections are built
The building agreement was signed on January 6, 2006, and then at the beginning of the following year the work began. The bridge connects one of the Northern districts of Budapest named Újpest with Békásmegyer and Budakalász on the Buda side.
A letter 'A'
Structurally the Megyeri Bridge is made up of five parts with a full length of 1862 meters and a width of 35 meters. From the full length three flood area bridge sections were built on 929 meters, while on further 922 meters two sections span over two arms of the River Danube. It bridges over the main branch of the Danube, the Southern part of the Szentendrei Island, the Szentendre Danube branch and the flood areas. At the Northern sector of the M0 the highway has 2x2 traffic lanes on the bridge, with a wider emergency lane as prescribed, allowing a long-range extension. In future, if the growth of the traffic demands, the road can be extended to 2x3 lanes without alteration of the bridge structure by eliminating the emergency lanes. On the North side of the bridge a cycle path also for the use of disabled can be found, whereas on the South side there is a sidewalk. The bridge is furnished with public lighting as well as navigation and aviation lights.
One of the special jobs of the making of Megyeri Bridge was the building of the bridge structure over the 510 meters long great Danube branch. Here a cable-stayed bridge structure was built for the first time in Hungary on a river road bridge. The 20 meters long steel elements were mounted in the South of Budapest and transported by water to the site. The two pylons placed 300 meters from each other each form a letter 'A', their height is 100 meters measured from the upper level of the pier. The steel supporter is suspended fan-wise by 44 cables each placed every 12 meters, in two plains. The shortest supporter is 56 meters, the longest 163 meters long.
Megyeri Bridge is Hungary's first cable-stayed river bridge
The huge pylons have a further surprise in store: in one of the legs a slanted elevator can be found, while in the other stairs lead to the girder-bridges, from where there is a vertical path to the peak. This was built to allow maintenance workers to reach the cable anchor chambers to be found at the different levels. A spectacular solution is the glass covering of the pylons above the girder-bridges on both sides emphasized by lights. An interesting aspect of the illumination is that in the peak of the pylons a LED system is used instead of the traditional lighting. This solution does not only save energy but because of the computer control it allows colorful and even moving light effects as well.
The Megyeri Bridge spans over the Szentendrei Island at a length of 559 meters where the protected drinking water supply of Budapest can be found, therefore special attention had to be paid to this section regarding environmental protection. In order to protect the drinking water supply as well as the flora and fauna of the island neither cars nor pedestrians are allowed to enter the Szentendre Island. Rainwater is drained off in a closed system, and for the protection of birds special walls were built on both sides of the bridge above the Szentendre Island section.
The bridge spans the Szentendre Danube branch 332 meters long, the axis of the road closes an angle of 80 grades with the current-line, the piers are parallel to the current-line.
From Stephen Colbert to Megyeri Bridge
The Ministry of Economy and Traffic announced a two-round internet voting eagerly followed by the media. The voting became internationally noted when two global news agencies (Bloomberg and Reuters) proclaimed from the housetops: the chance to name the new bridge after action star Chuck Norris is fairly big. It was then that the American showman Stephen Colbert started his media fight and in his comedy program, The Colbert Report he dwelled at length on the voting asking the viewers to help him to godfather of a bridge. The next day he already reported that he was preceded only by Miklós Zrínyi, calling the 16th century Hungarian hero an "asshole". Finally Colbert easily won the first round, then continuing his media campaign he scored a victory in the second round ending on September 8, 2006, too, closely followed by Jon Stewart and Miklós Zrínyi.
On September 14, 2006 András Simonyi, Hungarian ambassador to the USA announced Stephen Colbert's triumph in The Colbert Report. Colbert's enthusiasm was cooled by when he explained, that two things are necessary for him to give his name to the bridge: on the one hand he must speak Hungarian fluently, on the other hand he must be dead. After clearing the rules he invited Colbert to Hungary to personally see the building operations.
On September 28, 2006 the final name of the bridge was announced. Since it connects Káposztásmegyer and Békásmegyer, the Hungarian Committee of Geographical Names decided for the name Megyeri Bridge in spite of the fact that it did not make it to the second round.
Traffic starts on the Megyeri Bridge
The construction of the Megyeri Bridge was finished in about two and a half years. Before the inauguration the bridge was tested on August 22 to 24, 2008. The measurements were done at night so that the temperature difference caused by the sunshine did not affect the result. Altogether 48 sand loaded trucks weighting ca. 43 tons each were let onto the bridge, which performed well at the test: the construction bent less than half a meter, so the results were better than expected.
Traffic has started
The public was allowed to tread the Megyeri Bridge on September 13, 2008. In the course of an open day visitors could enjoy a bicycle march, a run race, an air display as well as fireworks in the evening.
The new bridge was inaugurated on September 30, 2008 by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, then a speech was given by Gábor Demszky, Mayor of Budapest. The traffic started after the ceremony, some minutes before 5 p.m.
The Megyeri Bridge can be reached by the bus number 204, which crosses the bridge. You can take it on the Pest side at the Újpest-Központ station of the underground line 3, on the Buda side at the Békásmegyer station of the suburban railways (HÉV).
By car take the main road number 2 from the Pest side (Váci út) or the M0 beltway, from the Buda side the main road number 11 (Szentendrei út).
Megyeri Bridge is the longest bridge of Budapest
Near the Megyeri Bridge on the Pest side we can find Aquaworld Budapest and the Ramada Resort Budapest connecting to it, making up the largest hotel and indoor water theme park in Central Europe. In the Aquaworld Budapest indoor water theme park 17 pools, among them a surf pool and a wave pool, 11 slides, 10 sauna facilities, a diving tower and in summer a bath ensure that water lovers feel well here.
The Ramada Resort Budapest is a four star superior conference and wellness hotel. 309 rooms, suites and apartments, a conference center seating almost 1000 persons, a spa, a wellness and fitness facility, diverse restaurants and an entertainment center are at the disposal of guests. From the rooms there is a wonderful panorama to the Buda Hills and the Megyeri Bridge.
"The Megyeri Bridge with its modernity and aesthetic appearance will well fit in the row of the Budapest bridges, and beyond its functional role it will increase the number of the places of interest in the city."
Mátyás Hunyadi - leading designer of the bridge
BRIDGES OF BUDAPEST
DID YOU KNOW?
"To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: The Szechenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow - England", reads the plaque on the plinth of a candelabrum situated at the Pest end of the Chain Bridge.Read more