Pedestrians are using the reinforced concrete overpass on the Zunda Canal to get from Pārdaugava to Ķīpsala and vice versa. The structure has been severely eroded throughout the years, a fact which does not seem to daunt the passersby.
“The first few times it didn't feel safe. Other people have also said that they didn't fancy walking on it the first time, because there really are some large holes in it. Later you get used to it, but it would be nice if it was renovated,” said Jeļena.
“I usually bike here. I have to carry [the bicycle] up. It would be nice if they made it easier for bikes to cross it,” said Dārta.
Whole sections of the rusty railing have collapsed and have since been patched over with caution ribbons.
However, it is unclear to the Riga City Council which of its institutions is responsible for the technical state of the bridge.
The Riga Construction Board has responded to the residents' complaints about the state of the bridge by pointing at the Department of Transport, since the bridge over the Zunda Canal is considered to be a public transport infrastructure object – a civil engineering structure, meant for public use.
The Department of Transport, for its part, claims that it is not responsible for the bridge. And after all – the bridge is not meant for pedestrians, but rather as a “Riga Heat” transmission line which was arbitrarily opened to pedestrians during the Soviet era.
“It could be that it belongs to nobody. I wouldn't like to term it illegal construction, but it could be. Riga Technical University students are currently using it as a pedestrian bridge,” admitted mayor of Rīga Oļegs Burovs.
This is not the only ownerless bridge in Rīga. Last spring, Latvian Television reported that the pedestrian bridge next to the railway station “Depo” in Zaķusala and the one near the “Jāņavārti” station in Ķengarags are in similar conditions.
After many people expressed outrage on social media, all the institutions involved finally expressed their readiness to gain some clarity as to the ownership of these objects.
“If they belong to nobody, then it is senseless to dispute […] Given that they happen to be in our administrative area, we will ourselves assess the technical condition and decide whether or not the bridge can be used,” said Burovs.
If the bridges prove to be dangerous and require capital investments, the municipality will have to decide whether to repair or dismantle them.