2022/11/21

Liugong Bridge: the First Reinforced-Concrete Bridge in Taiwan

Because the wooden trough bridge, which was used to send irrigation water, often needed repairs at the time, and there was increasing volumes of traffic between both sides of Jingmei River, the first bridge that crossed Jingmei River was built in 1908 (the 41st year of the Meiji era). This bridge ran over Jingmei River to connect today’s Xindian Happy Hotel and Jingwen Street. Beneath it were culverts supplying irrigation water, and on its deck, there were pedestrian and vehicle traffic. It is Taiwan’s first hydraulic engineering structure made of reinforced concrete. The bridge is named “Liugong” in remembrance of the hard work that Kuo Hsi-liu devoted to build the Liugongjun canal system. Liugong Bridge would replace the wooden trough bridge to cross Jingmei River.

Irrigation canals remained privately owned until the Japanese colonial period, when they were all managed and brought into public ownership by the colonial government to streamline agricultural production nationwide. The wooden trough bridge used by the Liugongjun canal system to distribute water from the present-day Zhongxing Road in Xindian to Jingmei Street would be replaced by culverts built by the authorities; the aqueducts of the canal system were reengineered to go from today’s Xindian Happy Hotel to Jingwen Street, connecting from Jingmei Night Market in the front left of Cheqian Road to the aqueduct in Jingmei Street. Afterwards, a Liugongjun aqueduct that ran over Jingmei River through the wooden trough bridge and arrived in the neighborhood of Jiying Temple via Jingmei Street was left infested with insects. For public health reasons, it was paved and repurposed into a road that would be widened to make it compatible with Muzha Road. How this infrastructure project was built is chronicled by the Kaidao Memorial Tablet, which used to stand close to Liugong Bridge. The tablet is now installed at the head of Jingmei Bridge.

The deck of Liugong Bridge was so close to the bottom of Jingmei River that, when heavy rains caused the river to overflow and triggered a flood, the bridge served as a barrier to flood discharge, thus making the local region prone to floods. As a result, the bridge was demolished in 1963. But the remains of the bridge’s reinforced-concrete piers are still visible if you look from Jingmei Bridge.

Built in 2010, Jingmei Bridge, now in service, is the fourth bridge to cross Jingmei River. It succeeded the Old Jingmei Bridge, which was built in 1955 and removed in 2009.

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何文賢 / He Wen-hsien

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