A new bridge that locals wanted but failed to have named after US
action movie hero Chuck Norris opened on Saturday linking Austria
and Slovakia for cyclists and pedestrians.
The name of the famous martial artist and actor came a clear
first in a survey of Slovakians organised on social networking
website Facebook by Bratislava regional assembly in February as
it looked around for a suitable name.
But Slovakian authorities, amid Austrian disapproval, decided
this was too flippant, opting instead for "Freedom Cycling
Bridge" in remembrance of the dark days of the Cold War when the
two peoples were divided by the Iron Curtain.
The 550-metre (600-yard) construction linking Schlosshof in
eastern Austria and Devinska Nova Ves is a "European signal here
at the junction between old and new Europe," said Erwin Proell,
premier of the state of Lower Austria.
The 4.6-million-euro ($6.0-million) project, 80-percent financed
by the European Union, "shows that we live in a time in which we
build bridges, not tear them down," Proell said at a ceremony
also attended by Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak.
The last bridge here across the river -- known as the March in
German or the Morava in Slovakian -- was built in 1771 under
Austro-Hungarian empress Maria Theresa, but it collapsed nine
years later in the same year as her death.
Norris, star of hit television series "Walker, Texas Ranger," is
a source of popular humour in Slovakia. In 2006, his name also
ranked among the top choices for the name of a bridge in