Portuguese Bridges - April 25th Bridge

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What is now known as the 25th of April bridge was originally known as the Salazar Bridge, although its official name is Bridge over the Tejo. It's currently a road-rail bridge, but it was not always so.

It is the link between Lisbon and Almada, crossing the Tejo estuary at its narrowest part. This is a suspension bridge.

In 1876 Eng. Miguel Pais suggested the construction of the Tejo Bridge on a link between Lisbon and Montijo. After that studies were requested from several foreign engineers, each of whom had different opinions. In 1888, Eng. Lye, a North American, proposed that this bridge be built between the Center of Lisbon (Chiado) and Almada.

A year later, French engineers Seyrig and Bartissol proposed that it be built between the Rocha do Conde de Óbidos and Almada areas. As early as 1890, a German company proposed that the link be made between the Beato area in Lisbon and Montijo, and public opinion at the time favored the same idea.

However, the decision of the Portuguese government did not take that direction. In 1913, the government received a proposal similar to the one made by the French in 1889. And it was the same proposal that was brought to Parliament for discussion in 1921, but the decision to build was postponed again.

In 1929, a request was made to the then Minister of Public Works, Duarte Pacheco, by Eng. António Belo, for the construction of a rail link between the Beato area in Lisbon and Montijo.

In view of this situation, Duarte Pacheco decided in 1933 to appoint a Commission to consider the proposal in question and, on the basis of its conclusions, in 1934, he himself submitted to Parliament a proposal for the construction of a road-rail bridge the Tejo.

However, Parliament again did not approve the proposal as it was decided to give priority to the construction of the Marechal Carmona Bridge in Vila Franca de Xira, which was to be inaugurated in 1951.

However, the issue of road and rail traffic between Lisbon and the south bank of the Tejo remained unresolved and so, in 1953, the Portuguese Government decided to set up a commission that would study and present solutions to this problem.

Thus, in 1958, more than eighty years after the first idea of building a bridge linking Lisbon to the south bank, the Portuguese rulers officially decided to start the construction of the bridge, and only on 5 November 1962 work began.

Construction of the bridge lasted 45 months, and the inauguration ceremony took place on August 6, 1966, in Almada. Its cost was two million two hundred thousand escudos.

Although the legal name of the bridge is Bridge Over the Tejo, it was known by all as Ponte Salazar, and many were not even aware of its official name.

Shortly after the Revolution, which took place on April 25, 1974, the government tried to change the name of the bridge in an attempt to erase as much as possible the remains of the newly defeated fascist regime. Thus, the bridge was no longer called Ponte Salazar to be called Ponte 25 de Abril.

Although the bridge was designed to support road-rail traffic, it was initially only road traffic. It was not until 1996 that the Portuguese Government undertook the remodeling of the bridge to match its intended purpose, so that on 30 July 1999 the lower deck of the bridge that would receive rail traffic was inaugurated.

With the construction of the bridge, the south bank of the Tagus, in the areas between Almada and Setúbal, underwent a very rapid growth, making it one of the most attractive tourist areas in Portugal.

At the time of its construction, the Tejo Bridge was the 5th largest bridge in the world, being the largest suspension bridge outside the United States of America. Today, although some forty years have passed, it is still the 20th largest.

Despite the construction of the Vasco da Gama Bridge, which diverted much of the traffic that was taking place through the Ponte 25 de Abril, still today, on average, about 150.000 cars pass over the bridge.

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