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Mayor Bém’s bridge

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Prague’s Libeň bridge, which connects Palmovka and Maniny, is about to undergo reconstruction. This isn’t exactly material for a column on politics, but I feel urged to issue a public warning: Watch out, someone’s going for our wallets again.

The 80-year-old bridge — the longest in Prague, by the way — really is in bad shape. If Tram No 1 rolled over the bridge any faster, the span would probably crumble. The bridge is so far gone, in fact, that it will have to be completely reconstructed. How convenient.

Anything short of rebuilding from scratch would be wastefully cheap. If new concrete is going to be put down at all, then it will be necessary to expand the single lanes to double lanes and bite off a chunk of the sidewalk for a bike path. I’m no transport expert, but has anyone ever witnessed a traffic jam on the Libeň bridge? (Maybe during the floods of 2002.) And why exactly was a new highway built from Karlín via Libeň all the way to Florenc?

Maybe someone from the City Council could explain it to me, fill me in on the numbers, calculations and diagrams. As a citizen of Prague, I just don’t buy it. It gets pretty depressing. The city builds a metro station in an empty field, spends tens of millions for the Olympics, billions more for the Opencard …

A few years ago, a leaders of ODS said, “This party will only truly change once it loses the elections in Prague. But that won’t happen so easily, and it’s not certain that we wouldn’t then need to set up a brand new Prague organization.” Frankly, I don’t care what happens to Prague’s ODS and I’m also not convinced that new leaders would change how city hall does business. The ODS hasn’t been in power in Brno since 2006, and look at the boondoggle which the Brno train station.

I could go along with the illusion that things are changing. It doesn’t take much. Which reminds me of something I saw recently as I was returning home late at night. It was raining. A sprinkler vehicle was crossing Letná, spraying the drenched roads. If I’d had two more beers in me, I might have thought that I was imagining it. I would have been happier, at any rate.

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