“Pons pars viae” – “The bridge is part of the road” (Vitruvius)
From the beginning to the end of World War II
Our company history begins with the enterprise of the Zsigmondy family and dates back to the end of the 19th century. The deep drilling enterprise of Vilmos Zsigmondy and the construction company of his nephew, Béla Zsigmondy, played a key role in the beginning of road construction in Hungary due to their technological innovations. In the last decade of the 1800s, the latter company was actively involved in the construction of new bridges in Budapest, including the bridges on Eskü Square (currently known as Elisabeth Bridge) and Fővám Square (once known as Franz Joseph and now as Freedom Bridge). The company benefited from its special expertise, primarily in drilling contracts, and in the foundation and construction of bridge abutments.
The company, later led by Dezső Zsigmondy, was involved in each major construction project of the historical Hungary from the beginning of the 20th century to World War II, building a large number of road and railway bridges and tunnels. Its name is associated with the reconstruction of the Chain Bridge in the middle of the 1910s, the construction of the Danube Bridge in Dunaföldvár at the end of the 1920s and the construction of Horthy Miklós (currently Petőfi) Bridge in the 1930s, as well as Óbuda-Hungária körút Bridge (currently known as Árpád Bridge). The company went through various organisational changes through the years until it transformed into a private company limited by shares in 1930.
Zsigmondy Rt. was a major market player in deep drilling and civil engineering at the time, accumulating a great deal of professional knowledge and expertise owing to its competent engineering staff.
After the war
The replacement of the destroyed Danube Bridges, even temporarily, and connecting the two banks of the river Danube was a critical issue following World War II. As there was no other option, the first temporary bridges were built using the ruins of the blown-up bridges. In 1946 Franz Joseph Bridge was reconstructed and has been called Freedom Bridge ever since. It was the first bridge used by trams between Pest and Buda after the war. The reconstruction of Margaret Bridge was completed in 1948, followed by the Chain Bridge. In that period, not only Zsigmondy Rt., but also numerous private contractors worked in bridge construction. Their cooperation resulted in the professional partnership of Danube bridges, which took on an important role in the reconstruction of the destroyed Hungarian bridges and in removing the ruins from the water.
The parties belonging to the professional partnership were nationalised in 1948 and were used as the basis of Hídépítő Company, which was founded two years later and remained one of the dominant companies in the Hungarian construction industry for the next five decades. In addition to bridge construction, the company worked on many construction contracts across the country, building underpasses, overpasses, industrial plants, potable water supply and wastewater treatment facilities, as well as road and rail transport structures.
The decades after nationalisation
In its activities until 1964 Hídépítő Company focused on the reconstruction of Hungarian bridges damaged or destroyed during the war. The major contracts of the 1950s included the reconstruction of Petőfi Bridge and the Danube Bridge in Dunaföldvár, the construction of Bolond út viaduct with pre-fabricated ferro-ccncrete pillars around Pécs, the construction of Varasd viaduct from monolithic ferro-concrete and the construction of the Northern Railway Bridge across the Danube. In 1960, Hídépítő demolished Kossuth Bridge.
The greatest jobs of the 1960s included the re-construction of the Elisabeth Bridge and the use of longitudinal and cross-suspended bearing grills in Szolnok during the construction of the bridge across the flood plain. The company used 26-metre long post-tensioned ferro-concrete beams in a road overpass in Vác for the first time in Hungary.
Hídépítő Vállalat followed the example of its predecessors and was always in a leading position in the introduction and application of modern and innovative techniques and technologies. The procedures introduced to Hungary included vacuum-well groundwater level reduction, the application of suspended bearing structures and the introduction of sliding formwork technology in tower construction. The innovations of the 1960s include the Frank system poles in deep foundations and the Hünnebeck scaffoldings to support monolithic ferro-concrete structures. In addition, the on-site bridge beam manufacturing technology also had to be developed and was first used in the construction of the overpass on Jászberényi út. The company introduced the DYWIDAG post-tensioning system in 1970, to be used for the cross-tension of prefabricated bridge beams and slabs, for binding the bridgeheads to the pillars of concrete and freely assembled bridges and for connecting the installation shaft in tension mounted bridges. Hídépítő actively took part in the construction of the M7 motorway. By the end of 1970 it had constructed 75 structures, including 65 bridges along with under-and overpasses between Budapest and Zamárdi.
At the beginning of the 1970s, the development of transport-infrastructure was concentrated primarily in Budapest and its surrounding area, where the major projects included overpass constructions, metro construction, the extension of the Millennium subway line and the construction work on the urban phase of the M3 motorway. The technological innovation of the period was the new bridge structure, introduced primarily for economic reasons with large apertures over the height of 70 metres. The composite solution involves the use of little material and combines the previously used pure steel structure with tensed ferro-concrete slabs. The method was first used in Hungary for the Szamos Bridge in Csenger and the Tisza Bridge in Algyő. That was when the tensed ferro-concrete bridge construction technology of pre-fabricated components and free assembly was developed in Hungary with the first example being a bridge across the river Hármas-Körös in Kunszentmárton. The flyover on former Marx Square, currently known as Nyugati Square, was another structure achieved using that technology.
In 1976 Hídépítő Vállalat began to use the free concreting technology in Hungary for building ferro-concrete bridges across major rivers with large apertures (approximately 100 metres). The first bridge built with that technology was the Moson-Danube Bridge in Győr in 1979. Apart from bridges, the company also constructed numerous new underpasses and overpasses, tunnels and stations and transport junctions. They included the structures on M1, M7 motorways, the Margaret Bridge station of the Szentendre HÉV (local railway), the north-south metro line and Kőbánya-Kispest terminal.
With the development of the company’s assets, in the middle of the decade, the SOIL-MEC drilling system became available for large diameter and deep drilled ferro-concrete poles. The system made foundation work more cost effective, primarily in those areas of the Great Plain that contained a great deal of geological sediment and where previously different methods had to be used.
The increased road traffic called for the partial reconstruction and capacity enhancement of the Danube bridges in Budapest, and thus at the end of the 70s the company reconstructed Margaret Bridge, Petőfi Bridge and Szabadság Bridge.
Between 1978 and 1983 Hídépítő built the flyover system in Hungária körút junction as part of the introductory section of M3 motorway and built 26 bridges on the M1 motorway using the same innovative EHG technology involving prefabricated foundation and upper structure components. The Csongrád-Szentes Tisza Bridge was also built using the same technology between 1977 and 1981. The foundation was made with the SOIL-MEC system, while the upper structure was prepared with free concreting. The related two flood plain bridges were constructed with EHGT beams.
In the first half of the 1980s the widening of Árpád Bridge was one of the most spectacular contracts awarded to Hídépítő Vállalat, of which the work was performed between 1980 and 1984. The plan to build the original bridge was made in the 1920s, but the foundation work, which started only in 1939, was interrupted by the war in 1944. In the end the Bridge was built narrower than designed and opened in 1950. 30 years later, simultaneously with the widening of Árpád Bridge, Flórián Square was also reconstructed with underpasses for pedestrians and two flyovers with two lanes each connecting Szentendre út and Árpád Bridge.
The assets of the company were further expanded in 1981 with a 120-tonne capacity Adam Clark floating crane, which has been used on large numbers of bridge construction jobs ever since. From one of the technological innovations of the decade, the company began using a version of shell shuttering technology, previously applied in the construction of Paks Nuclear Power Plant and adapted to the construction of the underground railway in the construction of the north-south underground railway line in 1981. The flyover on Váci út was built at the Pest bridgehead of Árpád Bridge between 1982 and 1984. This flyover was unique, as its framework type sub-structure had been integrated into the metro tunnel, built at the same time, located directly under the overpass. The poles of the bridge structure and the side walls of its framework structure were created as a structure bound to the ceiling of the underground railway. The jobs of the 1980s included the reconstruction work on Szabadság Bridge, Chain Bridge and Elisabeth Bridge, pavement construction and elimination of problems caused by corrosion. The highlight of the 1980s was the construction of the Dunakiliti dam, which created a huge challenge for the company due to its volume, unique requirements and concrete technology solutions. In the end, the Hungarian government did not implement the completed structure.
The company then added vacuum concreting to its special technologies. The new technology was used primarily in the City Park of Budapest, during the three-fold extension of the surface of the ice rink and during the construction of the Danube Bridge in Soroksár. The innovations of the decade continued with the patenting of the riverbed pillar foundation solution, used for protecting the ferro-concrete monolithic mantle wall. The method was first tested during the construction of the Danube Bridge in Háros, which was followed by the Lágymányos Danube Bridge and the Tisza Bridge in Cigánd. Hídépítő was the first company to use the incrementally launched bridge construction technology during the construction of Berettyó Bridge in Berettyóújfalu in Hungary in 1989. The bridge in front of the reception building in Ferihegy II. airport was also constructed by Hídépítő.
The years before the millennium – a decade of hectic changes
In the 1990s rapid events occurred that fundamentally affected the existence and history of the company. Hídépítő Vállalat began its way to independence, and the Company Council took responsibility for its management. During the initial years, the company reached its lowest point with an operating loss and redundancies, obsolete equipment and a lot of uncertainty around privatisation.
Finally, a radical change occurred on 1 June 1993: Hídépítő Részvénytársaság was established with French majority ownership.
A great deal of technological innovation was required to become competitive, hence the period involved the search for innovative solutions. The company established and successfully applied the continuous flight auger piling method (CFA), which had already been implemented in Western Europe, and Jet-Grouting technology developed in Japan. In order to prevent the flow of groundwater, Hídépítő developed the narrow diaphragm wall and clay diaphragm wall technology to be used in environmental protection, water construction and deep foundation. It also patented the post-tensed ferro-concrete shoring frame to support the walls of a hole or ditch excavation.
The company was granted an ISO certificate in 1997.
Hídépítő had widened the Danube Bridge in Baja by 1990, took over the construction of the Suzuki motor plant in Esztergom in 1991, and completed Szent István Bridge in Szolnok and the southern bypass of main road No. 4 around the county seat in 1992. By 1994 it had built eight monolithic bridges with reserve aperture structure on the Győr bypass of the M1 motorway. The Gyöngyös and Füzesabony section of the M3 motorway was completed by September 1998, of which 30 bridges and structures were constructed by Hídépítő.
A unique bridge construction operation took place in Hungary in 1994 when the Tisza Bridge in Polgár was divided into 2 parts and was reconstructed on the same river 110 kilometres away in Cigánd. The company built the sub-structure and upper structure of the Lágymányos Danube Bridge and Taksony vezér Bridge in Dunavarsány.
Between 1994 and 1996 the company constructed the potable water treatment plant in Csepel in a consortium.
In the middle of the decade, Hídépítő was granted a contract to build a barrier (riverbed threshold) at Dunakiliti to provide water supply to Szigetköz and prevent further environmental damage. In addition, the company was involved in the expansion of the wastewater treatment plants in Szentendre and Szombathely.
By completing the Nick dam and the reconstruction works of the needle dam in Gyula, Hídépítő Részvénytársaság also took part in the construction of hose dams, which were new innovations to Hungary.
In 1996 the company joined the reconstruction work of the bridges damaged in the South Slav war, through which it intensified its activities abroad. First it was involved in the reconstruction of the Volinja railway bridge, in cooperation with the technical corps of the Hungarian Army, then later in the reconstruction of the collapsed Bosanska Petrovo Selo railway bridge. In 1997 the company was actively involved in recovering the stones of the blown up Old Bridge in Mostar from the river Neretva, and in 1998 it took part with the construction of a temporary foot bridge, also in Mostar. In 1998 and 1999 it reconstructed Tier No. 5 in the port of Ploče.
The new millennium
In the new millennium (2000) numerous changes took place at Hídépítő, both in its organisation and its capital structure. As a result of a formal modification, in 2005 Hídépítő Részvénytársaság was transformed into a private limited company. The greatest change occurred in 2008, when the previously French-majority held company became a 100% Hungarian owned company once again. As a result of the organisational changes, which began in the same year and also affected the company type, A-Híd Zrt. was formed which, along with its associated companies, now forms the Híd Group.
The development of the Hungarian transport systems and communal infrastructure accelerated in the new millennium. A-Híd and the Híd Group is currently one of the major players in road and bridge construction, railway construction, water construction, wastewater treatment and environmental projects across the country as a construction contractor. We also expanded our presence abroad and, after becoming a certified NATO supplier, we added the construction of military facilities to our portfolio. Our NATO projects include the construction of the fuel supply system and buildings at the military airport of Pápa and the construction works of the radar station in Békéscsaba as well as a fuel depo in the Czech Republic. The most important road and bridge construction jobs of the last decade included the construction of the Kőröshegy viaduct on the M7 motorway and the Pentele Bridge in Dunaújváros, Móra Ferenc Tisza Bridge in Szeged and Megyeri Bridge. The reconstruction work of Budapest bridges is also notable among our bridge construction projects. In the course of the reconstruction and expansion of the Hungarian motorway network, our group constructed a lot of junctions, connection roads, viaducts, underpasses and flyovers. We also contributed to the modernisation of public transport in Budapest with the construction of Metro line 4 and the reconstruction work performed on several tramlines. Our company built and upgraded wastewater treatment facilities all over the country.
The construction of a motorway bridge in Nyitra, Slovakia, was another one of our foreign contracts.
We perform all our activities by following the examples of our predecessors, relying on the unique expertise of our staff and gradually expanding it with knowledge and information in line with the requirements of the 21st century while also developing the technology of the Group. We apply a progressive approach, constantly looking for new solutions as we intend to make the Híd Group one of the dominant players of the Hungarian construction industry well into the future.