3 December 2021

Digging of the Vistula Spit– the heart of the investment is almost ready!

Start-ups of devices and installations of the enclosed facilities at the construction site of the Vistula Spit Crosscut are in progress. One of the most important of them is the Nowy Świat Harbourmaster’s Office. This is where the heart of the crossing is located, i.e. the superior ship traffic control system.

“Works on the construction of the Shipping Canal are carried out efficiently. We are optimistic about the timely completion of the works on the Vistula Spit. The remaining parts of the investment are gaining momentum. The lining of the banks of the Elbląg river and the construction of a bridge in Nowakowo are in progress, while a tender has already been announced for the dredging of the fairway on the Vistula Lagoon,” said Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Marek Gróbarczyk.

The construction of the Vistula Spit Crosscut is a way to set a new waterway that will connect the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdańsk. But in order for such ship traffic to be possible and at the same time not to limit car traffic, it is necessary to build, among others, a shipping canal with a lock, swing bridges and a space from which all this can be managed, i.e. the Harbourmaster’s Office.

“The competencies of the Nowy Świat Harbourmaster’s Office will include general supervision over the safety of shipping, environmental protection, fire protection and control of the lock crossing,” says Paweł Perkowski, Coordinator for the Nowy Świat Harbourmaster’s Office from the Maritime Office in Gdynia, the investor of the entire project. ”Additional specific tasks will be the operation of the lock gates, swing bridges and the regulation of vehicular traffic within the Harbourmaster’s Office and the lock crossing.”

To make all this possible and safe, it was necessary to use the highest-class equipment of the operator station of the superior control system.

Of course, the system will not be working without the appropriate specialists. The Harbourmaster’s Office will be staffed with the harbourmaster, deputy harbourmaster, inspection officers, port traffic control officers and boatswains.

Interestingly, the recruitment of officers and boatswains to work in the future Harbourmaster’s Office is already underway.

How will it work?

The control system can be divided into three functional blocks. The first block is the station responsible for the crossing itself – used to control and monitor the processes taking place when ships pass through the canal. It is about swinging the bridges, opening and closing the gates of the southern and northern locks, controlling the gates, signalling devices, barriers, variable message boards, etc.

“This station includes, among others, large-size touch monitors and emergency panels, which, in the event of a fault, will allow to open or close a given bridge or control the lock gates,” explains Łukasz Biernat, Industry Works Coordinator at the NDI/Besix consortium, which is the general contractor of this investment.

The second block is a reserve station – for the southern part of the crossing, i.e. the entrance to the Elbląg river. In the event of a failure, it will enable the control of the bridge in Nowakowo.

“The third functional block is the facility security station – it supports the fire or burglary and robbery signalling system, access control, as well as almost 100 CCTV and perimeter protection cameras,” says Łukasz Biernat.


How is the rest of the works?

A lot is also happening in other areas of investment.

“Currently, we are finishing works from the southern bridge to the Vistula Lagoon. Reinforced concrete caps are made, as well as a service road with a surface made of cubes. We are finishing the assembly of hydrotechnical equipment elements,” lists Wojciech Deputat, Road Works Manager from the NDI/Besix consortium.

Moreover, the works related to performing the stone riprap have been completed on the west side, and this type of work on the east side is close to completion.

“In the near future, we plan to start earthworks related to excavations with a depth of 2.5 to the level of the bottom of the shipping canal. Environmental matters were important for the performance of these works,” emphasises Wojciech Deputat.

What is being done for animals?

As part of the investment, constant environmental monitoring is carried out and many activities are implemented to care for the environment. Among other things, in the narrowest point of the shipping canal, four ramps are located, creating two independent passages for animals.

“The ramps, two on each bank, located opposite each other, are 5 meters wide and 22 meters long,” says Dorota Słabek, Head of the Department of Environmental Impact of the Investment at the Maritime Office in Gdynia. “To make it easier for the animals to get out of the canal, the surfaces of the ramps will be made of geogrids, filled with gravel and pebbles, and then they will be grassed. Greenery leading to the ramp will also be planted.”

In addition, areas that are the darkest at night will be separated along the canal, while along the spit, medium-sized greenery strips will be planted; there will be no lighting. The lighting of the shipping canal, the road system and the service roads in its vicinity will have the warmest possible colour, so as to minimize the barrier effect for birds and bats.

Under the supervision of an ornithologist, 57 houses for birds and 100 for bats were prepared.

How is the artificial island doing?

Of course, a tribute to birds is also the construction of an artificial island in the Vistula Lagoon. Ultimately, it will cover an area of 181 hectares. So far, the vast majority of works related to driving sheet piling and installing ties have been performed there. Dredging works and backfilling of the island’s dikes are still in progress. Stone is being laid on the technical zone and a hydrotechnical stone riprap on the slope is underway. Half of the cut of the sheet piling will be made soon.

And what’s next?

Despite the increasingly difficult weather conditions, the general contractor still has ambitious plans. In the coming months, works will be carried out in the Gulf of Gdańsk, i.e. the completion of backfilling of the bulkhead on the Western Breakwater, the continuation of riprap works and reinforced concrete works on both breakwaters, and making the groundwork and the levelling layer of concrete and superstructure also on both breakwaters.

In the area of the lock, caps will continue to be made on the walls. The assembly of steel structure elements of the gates and mechanics as well as hydrotechnical equipment is also planned.

Test loading of the Northern Bridge has also started. Let us recall that the Southern Bridge was put into operation at the beginning of summer.

The construction of the canal on the Vistula Spit – the first part of the entire investment, is to be completed in 2022. The new waterway from the Gulf of Gdańsk through the Vistula Lagoon to Elbląg is a section with a length of nearly 25 kilometres.

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. Works are also underway on the second part, covering the lining of the banks of the Elbląg river and the construction of a swing bridge in Nowakowo. The contractor of these works is Budimex S.A. As for the third part, which will integrate the entire investment, namely the deepening of the fairway on the Vistula Lagoon, the tender procedure is currently underway. The investor is the Maritime Office in Gdynia.

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