22 October 2021

Digging of the Vistula Spit. Intensive work from the Gulf to the Lagoon

Some of the works in the breakwater ports in the Gulf of Gdańsk have been completed. Tests and adjustments of the mechanisms of the second swing bridge are ongoing. The driving of the sheet piling of the artificial island is also close to completion. What else is happening at the construction site of the Vistula Spit Crosscut?

A new waterway is being built on the Spit from the Gulf of Gdańsk through the Vistula Lagoon to Elbląg. It is a section nearly 25 kilometres long, and there are many engineering and construction challenges on it. Some of the tasks under the first stage have already been completed.

“The backfilling of the bulkhead in the eastern part of the breakwater port on the Gulf of Gdańsk has already been completed, and the same will happen in the western part at any moment. In both parts, the driving of steel sheet piles and the installation of ties in the main part have also been completed,” says Andrzej Małkiewicz, Head of the Investment Implementation Department at the Maritime Office in Gdynia. “Currently, the riprap of stone rubble is being made and concrete blocks “x-block” and “x-block plus” are laid, which will protect the structure of the breakwaters against the destructive effects of storm surges and dissipate the energy of waves in the outer port.”

Let us recall that the construction on the Vistula Spit is the first in Poland and the second in Europe to use this unique technology to protect breakwaters. But these are not the only works in this area. The supply and assembly of prefabricated retaining walls are also carried out all the time. The groundwork and the levelling layer of concrete are made.

The canal and the lock are under construction

In the area of the shipping canal and the lock works are also underway. Thanks to them, vessels will be able to get from the Baltic Sea to the Vistula Lagoon and vice versa.
Hydraulic engineering equipment is currently being installed. The construction of the quay caps in the southern part has also been completed. Currently, the general contractor of the first stage, the NDI/Besix consortium, focused, among others, on implementing the quay caps in the northern part. It also builds animal ramps. What is important is that wall bollards have already been installed on both the southern and northern parts, on the west side. As the contractor argues, the works are going smoothly, according to the schedule.

“In the lock itself, the following are being made: caps on the walls, the northern gate pocket, the southern gate drive block building and culverts on the northern gate,” lists Jacek Szymański, Project Director from the NDI/Besix consortium ”Stone edging, as well as upper and side rails on the northern gate, are also installed as well as the steel edging on the southern gate. In addition, the steel structure of the southern gate in the southern pocket is merged. Stone edging was also installed on the southern gate.”

Northern Bridge for testing and adjustments

Two swing bridges are also important for the investment. They will be opened alternately when vessels sail through the shipping canal now under construction. Thanks to this, traffic from the national road 501 will not be stopped. The first of the bridges was put into operation in the summer. Currently, the Northern Bridge is being finished – trolleys have been installed recently, and the assembly of transom brackets on the supports is in progress. Tests and adjustments of the moving mechanisms of the bridge are carried out.

Both facilities are identical in terms of their structure and unique in the country because they are one of the longest swing facilities of this type in Poland. The total length of one of them is more than 60 meters and the mass of the steel structure of the system with the counterweight is approx. 550 – 560 tonnes. The gem of this investment is also an artificial island that is being built on the Vistula Lagoon (opposite Przebrno), which will ultimately cover 181 hectares. It is to become a paradise for birds that are already visiting it. Works related to driving sheet piling are near to be completed there. The ties are being installed, and geotubes are being made. Dredging works and backfilling of the island’s dikes are still in progress. A hydrotechnical stone riprap is being made.

Intense work will continue

The coming months look no less intense at the first stage of the investment. The plans include, among others, completion of backfilling of the bulkhead on the Western Breakwater, further works in the area of the canal and lock and on the artificial island, as well as finishing the Northern Bridge. Works in the electrical, telecommunication and sanitary sectors will also be continued, e.g., installation of electrical connections, lighting cabinets and local switchgears of the Master Control System (in the area between the bridges), construction of power and telecommunication networks or a rainwater sewage system in the eastern area of the lock and along the berth.

The construction of the canal on the Vistula Spit – the first part of the entire investment is to be completed in 2022. The contractor of construction works under the project entitled “Construction of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdańsk – part I” is the NDI/Besix consortium. The investor is the Maritime Office in Gdynia.

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