The 516 Arouca Bridge, pointed out as the largest suspended pedestrian structure in the world, opens this Thursday to local residents and, among those who have already met it on preparatory visits, even the most nervous people consider it “spectacular”.
Connecting 516 meters of distance between the banks of Canelas and Alvarenga, the new equipment in the Aveiro district is secured by concrete and steel structures arranged 175 meters above the rapids of the Paiva River and integrates a metal railing board that, in addition to being permeable to the wind, also allows you to observe in depth the scenery under the feet of visitors.
For Verónica Bernardo, a municipal tourism technician who was testing the experience on the new bridge with small previous guided visits, it is the vertical angle of the view provided through this grid that most makes the structure “frighteningly beautiful”.
As a result of my work [of preparation], I have already made the crossing several times – in conditions of light rain, in conditions of fog, in conditions of sun – and it is almost like the Passadiços do Paiva: each of these moments is unique and worth feather. As for the little nervous, it always exists, at the beginning, but then it passes with the spectacularity of the landscape “, she told to Lusa.
On this pre-inaugural tour, Verónica began by emphasizing that the entire landscape around the 516 Arouca Bridge is classified as a geopark and is part of the Natura 2000 Network. The structure crosses the Garganta do Paiva valley and is located next to Cascata das Aguieiras, whose waters fall on a riverbed that, because it is granitic, forces the river to deviations and particularly revolting curves.
Fernando Vieira listened to these explanations anxiously. Even before crossing the bridge, he had already argued that the experience was going to be “spectacular” and announced that there were no nerves to hold him back. “Anyone will enjoy making the crossing, through the landscape and all the surroundings,” he declared, anticipating that the expected influx of visitors to the site will constitute “an asset for the parish of Alvarenga”, where he lives.
When Verónica authorized the crossing to begin then, no one seemed to remember the physical distance that the pandemic has forced: some eight visitors immediately launched towards the entrance and Fernando was ahead, as in a running race in which the prize it was to be the first to step on the perforated floor of the bridge.
Adriano Santos was at the rear of the group, but he was the hardest athlete. With mobility problems, he made the cane the way to the middle of the board, always very slowly and getting tired a lot more than the others, since he did not fully support the cane on the ground to prevent the rubber tip, just a little more wider than the grid grid, was retained in the holes in the floor.
Before turning back, he stopped in the middle of the structure, savoring the silence of the mountain and tried to reveal what he felt. “Looking down does a little bit of… Put a little bit of… But it’s not a big deal. It’s a really cute joke. There’s nothing very complicated,” he said, serene, tearing the silence.
Márcio Soares went further, but he also distanced himself from the group to better appreciate the waters that flowed 175 meters below his feet. He then confessed that in 2017, when he first heard about the project, he thought that this “would be just for the rumor” and would not be more than that.
What is certain is that it is now a reality and we hope that everyone will bring good fruits to the municipality. It was a great bet by the City Council and the whole team that got involved in this work is to be congratulated. We hope that it will be an asset for the municipality, that it will bring us more tourism-especially at a time like this, when it is necessary-and that all arouquenses can make the most of this exclusivity “, he admitted.
The mayor’s office did not hear his praise because it only arrived later. When she came to greet the group, who was then on the opposite bank from the one where the visit had started, everyone saw her cross the metal structure over Gariva do Paiva in high heels, as if nothing was, she was so used to being on the path after several technical visits to the site in recent months.
Margarida Belém was panting a little after the upward walk under 24 degrees of sun, but she was happy. “To be crossing this bridge today and to have it completed is a huge pride. It represents the work of a large team and it was only possible because we were always very much in concert and we were overcoming all obstacles together,” she said.
Recalling that the Municipality went ahead with the contract of 2.3 million euros before knowing whether it would obtain the appropriate community contribution, as it was verified only later through the Program for the Economic Valuation of Endogenous Resources, the socialist mayor attributes the project to the audacity local – says that “Arouca is an inland municipality already used to being bold – and it also justifies it with good accounts – because starting the work without financing” reveals the financial capacity of the municipality “.
Innovative in terms of engineering and architecture for having used techniques originally conceived for the specificity of the land itself, the bridge materialized by the ITeCons institute and the construction company Conduril is thus “an iconic, differentiating work”, which has already been motivating diverse requests as ” attraction not only nationally, but also internationally “.
The young Mariana Duarte already anticipated this search and wanted to guarantee a first place. Lying on the floor of 516 Arouca, with her whole body laid out on the railing, she asked to be photographed, did the proper pose and proclaimed: “So I am the first person to take a photo lying on the bridge. Since these photos will not be missing, you have to be the first! “.