Kyoto Shimbun 2014.8.25 News

Biwako Ohashi Bridge's First Pedestrianization
Commemoration for Its 50th Anniversary on September 28

As the Biwako Ohashi Bridges, which connect Otsu City and Moriyama City in Shiga Prefecture, will mark their 50th anniversary this year, a commemorative ceremony will be held on September 28. The 1.4-kilometer-long southern bridge will be pedestrianized for the first time since its opening. The anniversary will be celebrated through events such as 1,000 people holding hands while standing in a row on the bridge and others.

The first Biwako Ohashi Bridge was opened on September 28, 1964 as a "bridge of dreams" connecting the west coast and the southern and east coasts of the lake in order to contribute to industrial development and promote tourism at Lake Biwa. In 1980, pedestrian and bicycle lanes were installed. In response to increased traffic, a new bridge was constructed on the north side in July 1994, making a total of four lanes. Currently the bridges are run by Shiga Prefectural Road Public Corporation. More than 30,000 cars per day cross the bridges.

The commemoration project is sponsored by an executive committee consisting of 21 entities, including the cities on both sides of the bridges, Moriyama City and Otsu City. The southern bridge bound from Moriyama to Otsu will be closed to cars from 9:30 a.m. till noon to hold the event. Although the bridge has previously been closed to cars due to marathons or other events, this is the first time it will be pedestrianized since its opening. A straight row of 1,000 people will equal the bridge's 1.4 kilometer length, so participants are being publicly sought. They will hold hands, fly balloons, and do radio gymnastic exercises together.

In addition to walking freely on the pedestrianized bridge, visitors will be able to view the bridges from the lake on a free passenger vessel plying between Pieri Moriyama port and the Biwako Ohashi Kome Plaza port. There will be a back side tour along the inspection path for bridge management, a panel exhibition of the bridges' history, a fair featuring specialties of Lake Biwa, and other events.

There is no charge for participation in the 1,000-people event, but prior reservations are necessary as it's first-come-first-served. The application deadline is September 5. To apply, contact the executive committee in Commerce and Tourism Division of Moriyama City, at 077-582-1131 (Japanese language inquiries only).

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= The Biwako Ohashi Bridges are marking the 50th anniversary of their opening (view from Moriayama City toward Otsu City)