Distinctive, expressive, with an unique character: the new S21 railroad bridge in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt

It took twenty years until the already finished plan for a new railroad bridge at the Neckar bend between Stuttgart and Bad Canstatt could be handed over to the client. Several planning stops had repeatedly put the beautiful design on ice, with which Jörg Schlaich had won the 1998 design competition for a new four-track railroad bridge over the Neckar in the newrail junction of the Stuttgart21 project. Now, however, it is standing there, his steel sail bridge, defining the cityscape, expressing self-confidence and with the unique aesthetic character of an entirely unprecedented form. In 2025, when the superstructure and trial loads have been carried out, it is expected to go into operation. Like so many unusual projects of this kind that set the tone, the design and construction of this steel cable-stayed bridge demanded a high level of cooperation from all those involved because of its structural design, which is special for railroad bridge construction. As the following article illustrates, standardized verification methods were not applicable in some cases. And the executing company had to demonstrate special manufacturing skills both in the factory and on site for the steel construction and erection work as well as for the foundation work. Thus, this bridge became another indication of how necessary the pragmatic and mutually supportive cooperation of the designer, the structural and the welding test engineer, the EBA surveyor, the executing company and the client are for distinctive structures.