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'Chuck Norris' bridge linking Austria, Slovakia opens

  • 22 Sep 2012
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VIENNA (AFP)
In 2006 Chuck Norris also ranked among the top choices for the name of a bridge in Hungary

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 neighbouring Hungary.

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