Vistula Spit – July 2020
Work is in progress on the project “Construction of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdańsk”. Currently, in the area of the Gulf of Gdańsk, the installation of specialist tenaille and cribs has been completed on the seawalls of the western and eastern breakwaters. On the main part of the western breakwater a sheet piling wall started to be plunged. Dredging is under way in the area of the south quay. Intensive work is ongoing at the site of the future shipping channel. Excavations are being made for the purpose of sinking a sheet pile wall, and work is also under way within the lock and lock gates. In this area, also embankments and fortifications of slopes are being constructed.
– By the end of July, we want to finish the reinforced concrete structures of the abutments and foundations of the supports for the southern bridge – says Dominik Wróblewski, site manager from NDI/Besix consortium. We will start the same works on the second bridge, the north one. Throughout the whole investment, we are expanding the networks for the needs of the construction site and those that are being built on target, along the shipping channel and the culverts under the planned roads. We have also finished the foundations and started construction works on the Harbourmaster’s building that is under construction.
The works are also under way from the side of the Vistula Lagoon, where an artificial island is being built, which is one of the elements of the investment of the shipping channel through the Vistula Spit. Ultimately, the island will be developed into a bird habitat.
-The implementation of the planned project involves the need to manage significant volumes of excavated material from dredging works. In the process of preparing the project, various possibilities and locations of the silting field were analysed. The area in the central part of the Lagoon at the Przebrno height at a distance of about 2.5 km from the shore of the Vistula Spit was chosen for the location of the artificial island construction. The site was selected primarily for the reasons of the natural environment, except for the most valuable habitats of the basin for ichthyofauna, ornithofauna, as well as for safety of navigation – says Captain of the Maritime Transport Wiesław Piotrzkowski, Director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia.
For the purpose of the construction of an artificial island in the Lagoon, specialist equipment was purchased, which will enable work in unusual conditions, characteristic of the Vistula Lagoon.
– We bought two unique pontoons and two floating excavators, which will help us with this investment. At the moment, there are works carried out there, connected to plunging the wall of the cofferdam forming an envelope of the island – says the supervisor of the works on the creation of an artificial island Wojciech Czyżewski, project director from NDI.
The island, with an area of about 181 ha and a volume of about 9.2 million m3 will be managed in a way that will enrich the habitats of Natura 2000 areas. In the area around the Vistula Lagoon the grassland, which is the breeding site of many bird species, has disappeared in the last 20 years. Therefore, the island may be such a place in the future, as well as a place to rest and feed for water and marshland birds during the migration period (species such as: gadwall, northern shoveler, Eurasian wigeon, mallard, pintail, garganey, Eurasian teal and others), as well as protected species (greater white-fronted goose and taiga bean goose).
– It will be a place that birds during migration and breeding will use for their needs – says Piotr Zięcik, ornithologist, one of the co-authors of the environmental report for the investment. It should be remembered that in the whole investment process it is not the case that this project is carried out and nobody pays attention to the fact that we have environmental resources here. We monitor, check and care for the welfare of all animals in the area, in order not to harm them and maintain their life at least in the state from before the investment implementation. I am convinced that all activities that minimize the impact and support ecosystems will ultimately lead to an additional increase in the value and quality of the ecosystem for animals.
Once the island is built and the shores are covered with reed rushes, conditions for nesting by both great crested grebe and mute swan (both protected) will appear in the transition zone. The development of the island towards hay meadows will create conditions for an increase in the concentration of seedling species, which are part of the wetland bird community and are also the object of the area’s protection.
A properly managed island will improve the habitat conditions in the area of the Lagoon, especially as regards meadow habitats, which have been disappearing in recent years. This may in the future result in an increase in the abundance and recovery of breeding species, which are subject to protection (spotted crake, little crake) or not, but which are important and currently decreasing in the Pomeranian region due to habitat loss and predation of alien species (such as mink or raccoon dog).
The implementation of these assumptions will result in an increase in the abundance of not only the mentioned species, but also a number of others, and thus increase the rank and importance of the Natura 2000 area. Let us remind you that the current stage of the investment includes the construction of a shield port from the side of the Gulf of Gdańsk, the construction of a shipping channel with a lock and the construction of closures with waiting stations from the side of the Gulf of Gdańsk and the Vistula Lagoon, the construction of a new road system with rotating steel-structure bridges that will enable the passage over the channel before and after the lock; the construction of an artificial island located on the Vistula Lagoon. The shipping channel is to be about 1 km long and 5 metres deep.
The total length of the new waterway will be 22,880 km (including the passage through the Vistula Lagoon – 10,176 km; Elbląg River – 10,381 km; the remaining 2,323 km is a section of a berth, lock and external harbour) and its depth is 5 m. Ultimately, it is supposed to allow ships up to 100 meters long and up to 20 meters wide to enter the port in Elbląg. The construction of the canal on the Vistula Spit is to be completed in 2022. The investor is the Maritime Office in Gdynia, and the contractor for the first, currently implemented part of the investment is the consortium of NDI/Besix companies.