"12 seconds of this video show 12 months of work to construct two arch spans, a railway span, installed in August, and an automobile span. 200 large parts, 175,000 bolts, the length is 227 meters, and a puzzle for the engineers: How to deliver 5,500 tons of metal from the land to the sea."
Full transcript of video provided below.
Russian TV regularly reports on the progress of the massive Kerch strait bridge, which will link Crimea with the Russian mainland, providing both rail and car traffic.
The bridge has great strategic significance, as it will solve Crimea's energy and supply problems, as well as allow a steady stream of tourists to visit Russia's largest warm-weather tourist destination. The cost of the project is about $3.5 billion. The bridge will be the longest and most expensive in Russia.
This report is particularly long and detailed, showing remarkable footage of the progress and in-depth interviews with the engineers describing what a technical challenge it is to build it. An interesting look at Russian large-scale engineering in action.
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Among many things, the bridge will help preserve an old ottoman military fortress that was suffering degradation due to a major railway passing in front of it.
I have some photos, look. Where was it taken from? From a pylon, it's 324 meters high. Just look at these clouds! This photo from the bridge to Russky Island could be included in the top list of world's most dangerous selfies. But this is the job of Yury Safonov from Yekaterinburg.
Now the engineer is going to conquer another summit at the other end of the country. Special Report The Crimean Bridge: Arc de Triomphe If we're talking about unique bridges, we can divide them into 4 groups: cable, suspended, extradosed, arch bridges.
This one is an arch bridge. The bridge to Russky Island is a cable bridge. On the whole, the bridge to Russky Island is unparalleled in terms of the length of its central span. Here, this is the longest bridge in Russia built in the sea.
We haven't had such long bridges in the sea. It looks like a parade of ships, as they line up in a long line to pass from the Azov Sea to the Black Sea. At dawn the seaway will be closed for 3 days to install the second arch of the Kerch Strait Bridge.
12 seconds of this video show 12 months of work to construct two arch spans, a railway span, installed in August, and an automobile span. 200 large parts, 175,000 bolts, the length is 227 meters, and a puzzle for the engineers: How to deliver 5,500 tons of metal from the land to the sea.
Roman Novikov, head of the Federal Road Agency "Taman":
"We had a plan to transport an arch span on high pillars, that is, to lift it to 35 m in the beginning, and transport it here at a height of 35 m from the stocks in Kerch. But we refused this plan due to harsh weather conditions. Every gust of wind would threaten to knock the arch down."
Roman Novikov was born in Belgorod, studied in Moscow, but has spent the past 2 years in Kerch Strait, controlling the construction project of the century. "Tell us when you're going to cut it for us to take another look at it from below." Novikov jokingly calls 19 km of Russia's longest bridge a "trifling distance."
Prior to this he was responsible for 6,000 km of roads in the Far East. He clearly explains why they couldn't assemble the arches right in the sea, on some floating platforms. The bottom is silt here, and the sea is rough during 10 days per month, with the wind up to 40 meters per second. As a result, a unique technique of transportation and lifting.
"At The Krylov State Research Center in St. Petersburg, they tested the models of our floating facilities and the arch span in a huge test tank. They literally imitated this maritime operation in a lab environment. But it's one thing to model a situation, but it's quite another to implement it. They had to wait by the sea for the weather. And when the long-awaited calm comes, the arch is placed on huge pontoons with the help of special rails. At dawn this giant goes to sea, amazing Kerch fishermen. The construction is driven by several tugboats, motor boats, and 100 seamen with a 20 to 30-year record. Pulling out at 6 a.m., the arch covers 5 km to the seaway only by midday."
Yury Safronov, Chief Engineer of the Federal Road Agency "Taman":
"It's several meters per minute. The goal of these stages is not to meet the speed limit of work, but to ensure an accurate positioning and installation of the arch. The margin of error is no more than 60 cm. Given the weight and length of the arch span, it's high, pinpoint precision."
The technique was tested while installing the neighboring railway arch. Its length is the same, its top point is 45 m high, but it's 10 m narrower and weighs almost 1000 tons more, as it will bear loaded cars.
The railway arch span, which is already erected, has a truss. It's a more rigid type. The automobile arch span has no truss, but a special flexible suspension. Tugboats leave at 300 m from the pillars. Then the arch is aligned by anchor cables. It will take several hours more. We're driving on a temporary work bridge, and the Crimean Bridge is on the left. It has accompanied us for 1,5 km from the coast.
Every hour it grows 4 or 6 m longer. It's the so-called launch speed. Bridge spans are pushed forward, but you can't notice this movement with a naked eye. Upward launching is faster, it's pulled with a rod. On the straight lifting jacks are used, and the work slows down. By the way, 70% of the section of the bridge from the Crimean coast to the arches is completed.
As you see, several hundred meters separate the bridge from the seaway, but by December 31, 2017, which is looming, the bridge spans will close, so one could go on foot, not by car yet, from the Krasnodar region to Crimea. The arch was aligned between the seaway pylons only at sunset. Lifting is postponed until the morning, as almost 500 steel cables have to be checked before pulling the arch upwards.
"We involve 12 lifting jacks. The capacity of each is 650 tons. Thus, the overall capacity of the jacking system is 7,800 tons. It's 30% more than the weight of the arch." Finally, the construction, weighing thousands of tons, is lifted from the floating platforms.
The lifting speed is only 5 meters per hour. It's controlled by 30 engineers and surveyors.
Arkady Rotenberg, founder of the contracting company, is watching the operation in person:
"As I see my task, it's to ensure that the people who are completing the technological part of the construction, don't face a shortfall in anything, including technological, financial aspects, and everything that comes with the construction work."
Just on the seaway section, 400 people work there. The total number of those involved in the construction are 10,000 people from all over Russia.
"The arch, albeit a major part of the bridge, is not the whole bridge. The construction will continue according to schedule."
The first automobile is expected to drive over the bridge in a year. 275 out of 288 pillars are completed. And in 2019 the first train will go over the parallel railway bridge. So far, piles for its pillars are being driven. The bridge is of great importance for the Yeni-Kale fortress, though it is 20 km far from it. It was built in the early 18th century by the Ottoman Empire to prevent Russian ships from entering the Kerch Strait. However, the Russian Empire took it without striking a blow in 1771.
Now this Crimean sight is deteriorating year by year because of the railway which goes from the Kerch ferry line right on the territory of the fortress. This branch could be closed after the bridge is completed. This will preserve the architectural monument. The arch was lifted to the necessary height late at night.
Sergey Chepurnov, chief construction manager:
"I do feel tired, but pride eclipses it, as well as the satisfaction of completing the work."
Sergey Chepurnov, chief construction manager, born in Nizhny Novgorod, is on his last legs. He hasn't slept for 2 days like everyone involved in this operation.
"You must install the jacks correctly so that the arch is accurately lifted. You must position the arch correctly to lift it correctly, without any incline or imbalance."
The giant arch is actually suspended, but the Area Supervisor, Sergey Kozlov, assures that it's safe to stand under it. Nevertheless, the construction will be fixed by so-called wind braces.
"It is fixed by the side so that the span construction isn't shaken by the wind. As you say, it is suspended, and now it's being fixed to the pillars so that it isn't shaken by the wind."
At night, like now, completed arches will be illuminated with red, blue and white, as, in fact, this navigation span is the gate to Russia. Even now we can imagine the opportunities that a four-lane road and 47 trains per day will open.
The Krasnodar region resorts might have new excursions, for example, the settlement of ancient Cimmerians who lived here, or Kerch Salt Lakes which seem to be covered with ice even on a hot day. The bridge will make it possible to visit all this beauty in one day.
By the way, the first railway bridge over the Kerch Strait was destroyed by ice only 3 months after its construction in autumn 1944.
The new one won't share this fate as up to 100 piles of 1,5 m in diameter have been driven under each of the pillars. Such a construction will weather an earthquake with a magnitude of 9, and the height of the arch spans, 35 meters, will allow any ship to freely pass under it, be it a warship or a tourist ship.
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