11 February 2022

The winter cannot stop the works on the Spit

Despite strong winds and storms, works on the construction of the Crosscut of the Vistula Spit Channel are proceeding at a good pace. A lot is going on both in the outer port, in the central part of the investment, and in the area of the artificial island.

“It looks like the first ships will pass through the channel on the Vistula Spit by the end of this year. We prefer not to give a specific date, because we are facing a difficult stage of launching watertight gates. The entire investment will have an impact on the activation of Eastern Poland – areas that did not have a chance for development. I hope that this will change and that we will start a new stage of development of Elbląg and other towns located on the Lagoon,” said Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Marek Gróbarczyk.

The Crosscut of the Vistula Spit Channel includes the construction of a protective harbour from the side of the Gulf of Gdańsk, a shipping channel with a lock, closure structure and berths from the side of the Gulf of Gdańsk and the Vistula Lagoon, as well as a new road system with swing bridges and the construction of an artificial island on the Lagoon. The new shipping channel will be one-kilometre-long and five-metres-deep. The investment of the Maritime Office in Gdynia is a real engineering challenge. However, the General Contractor, the NDI/Besix consortium, still maintains an impressive pace of work.

The outer port consists of the eastern and western breakwaters. The base of the eastern breakwater is made up to 24 sections – both at the external and internal side. There are still stone ripraps to be made constituting support and foundation for the energy-dissipating elements, i.e. the “x-block plus” elements used here in an innovative way. These ripraps have been brought to zero level. We need to bring them above sea level, and then to the target heights of 5 and 6.5 metres,” reports Andrzej Małkiewicz, Head of the Investment Implementation Department at the Maritime Office in Gdynia. “The works on the western breakwater are definitely more advanced because they were carried out in the water area already shielded by the eastern breakwater. Only the last sections and the head section remain to be implemented here.”

First tests of gates No. 1 and 2

Work is also in full swing on the shipping channel. In the southern part, the assembly of equipment has been completed, dredging works are being carried out, and the crushed rock gravel riprap has been executed on the slopes constructed from the water side. In the northern part works related to the assembly of fendering are ongoing. And that is not the end of it.

“In the central part of our construction, all the basic, construction and reinforced concrete works have been completed. Reinforced concrete works have been completed for the lock, and construction works related to the installation of the steel structure of the gates are ongoing. All four gates have already been delivered to the site. As for gates No. 1 and 2 in the southern pocket, we are finishing the stage of their integration and starting the first test runs,” says Mariusz Janczewski, Deputy Project Director from the NDI/Besix consortium.

The Contractor is facing one of the crucial moments in this investment, i.e. flooding the lock, which will be a long-term process and will depend on the results of individual tests.
“Having completed testing and flooding the lock with water, we will be able to complete earthworks in the form of dredging works on the north and south approach guard walls, so as to clear the entire channel for potential future shipping,” emphasises Mariusz Janczewski.

Fighting the weather on the island
Much is also happening in the area of the artificial island, which is to become a sanctuary for birds on the Vistula Lagoon. Over 10.7 thousand linear metres of sheet piling were driven there. That is over 99% of planned sheet piling. In addition, 1,376 rods were performed, i.e. also 99% of this type of work. Generally, it is estimated that the island is approximately 80% complete.

“The remaining scope of work on the island includes the closing of the northern gates, which will be done at the very end of the works. Part of the geotube and a stone backfill of this geotube with the formation of slopes also remain to be performed,” says Mariusz Sasin, the Director of the Island Construction Project from NDI. “At the moment, we are fighting the weather to carry out works on the island and the dredging works on the track and the shipping channel. It is not easy, since there are storms every week.”

However, the fact that the works are close to the end is evidenced by the fact that the demolition of the temporary quay, called by the builders the “elbow”, is currently underway. It was a storage and transshipment yard, from which material for the construction of an artificial island bulkhead was transported.

“We have a plan to demolish the entire quay by the end of February and leave the reservoir as clean as it was at the beginning of the construction,” says Mariusz Sasin.

Installation of CCTV on bridges.

Electrical, teletechnical and sanitary works are also being carried out. The construction of power and teletechnical networks along the service road at the western breakwater is ongoing. The assembly of CCTV system elements is also being carried out in the area of the northern and southern bridges. A stormwater drainage system is being built in the area of the transshipment and connection quay, as well as linear drainage at the connection quay and in the area from the southern bridge to the northern bridge of the western part of the crosscut.
In addition, a master control system is being started up. Integration with the automation system of the northern and southern bridges as well as with external systems installed in the crossing area is also in progress.

The construction of the channel 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.

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