The speed limit going over Skeiðarárbrú bridge in South Iceland will be reduced from 90 to 50 km/hr (56 to 31 mi/hr) in coming days, RÚV report. The single-lane bridge is in such a bad shape that oftentimes a week, crossing it results in a flat tire. A new, double-lane bridge, intended to replace the old one, is likely to remain unused for six months, because funds have not been allocated to connect it to the Ring Road.
When the old bridge was built in 1974, it opened a route around the country, which we now call the Ring Road. The bridge is Iceland’s longest, originally 900 m (just over half a mile), but following a large glacial outburst flood, caused by a volcanic eruption in 1996, parts of it had to be rebuilt, shortening it to 880 m.
In 2009, there were major changes in the riverbed, of Skeiðará river, moving the flow of the river farther west. Thus, the Skeiðará bridge now stands on dry land, except for its easternmost part, where Morsá river flows along Skeiðarár’s former riverbed.
The new bridge under construction, which will be 68 m (74 yards) long, is set to be ready in October. It won’t be usable then, though, because funds have not been provided to connect it to the Ring Road. The Icelandic Road Authority does not expect it to be connected until early next summer, provided funding of ISK 230 million (USD 2 million, EUR 1.7 million) is guaranteed.
Until then, drivers must pass the bridge carefully, hoping they won’t get a flat tire from fragments of steel frames, meant to protect the bridge’s wooden floor. The steel frames are coming lose, because the bridge’s timber no longer holds the screws meant to fasten the steel.
No warning signs have been put up by the bridge, but Óskar Örn Jónsson, head of the project department at the Icelandic Road Authority, stated that given how many tires have been damaged, such signs must inevitably be put up and the speed limit reduced.