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Deadly Footbridge Ready to Reopen

Monday, March 23, 2015

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Closed for nearly 15 years, a walkway high above a Spanish gorge will reopen to the public after a multimillion-dollar facelift.

Often referred to as the world's most dangerous path, the Caminito del Rey ("the King's pathway") in the Gaitanes Gorge Canyon of the Baetic Mountains of Spain was shut down following the death of several hikers due to the trail's poor conditions.

Now the three-foot-wide boardwalk, which clings to a cliff wall 320 feet in the air, will reopen March 26 thanks to €5.5 million ($5.8 million) in restoration work funded by the provincial government, according to CNN.

Fit for a King

Starting in the village of El Chorro in southern Malaga province, the entire route is 4.8 miles long, and almost two miles are covered in boardwalks.

Caminito del Rey

The Caminito del Rey was closed nearly 15 years after its deteriorated conditions led to several fatalities. Now it has been restored and will reopen March 26.

According to tourism officials, it takes four to five hours to walk the whole thing.

The trail was built between 1901 and 1905 to provide construction workers access to build hydroelectric plants between two waterfalls.

The trail got its name when the "Conde del Guadalhorce" dam was inaugurated in 1921 and King Alfonso XIII crossed the path to get to the ceremony.

Time was not kind to the trail, however, and it started to deteriorate until only remnants of its base remained. Plans to restore the path started in the early 2000s, but were postponed due to a lack of funding.

Daredevil Construction

Restoration work started March 13, 2014. Construction was carried out in a similar way to how it was initally built—with the crew performing work while hanging from the cliff's wall.

Diputación de Málaga / YouTube

This YouTube video showcases the daring construction tactics used for the path's restoration work.

However, various safety features that didn't exist in the early 1900s were employed and a helicopter was used to bring in supplies.

The renovated trail is made of wood panels with metal anchors drilled into the wall.

One of the most interesting features, tourist officials say, are the occasional glass floors installed over the Gorge of Gaitanes.

Once reopened, a maximum of 50 people will be allowed to enter every 30 minutes, capping off at 600 people per day.


Tagged categories: Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health and safety; Historic Structures; Locks and dams; Program/Project Management; Restoration

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