The construction of a waterway linking the Gdansk Bay with the Vistula Lagoon has continued. Thanks to this investment, the port of Elbląg will gain access to the sea without having to use the Pilawa Strait.
– The construction of the Vistula Spit waterway is a strategic investment in Poland. The works are proceeding according to schedule – says Andrzej Adamczyk, Minister of Infrastructure.
The first stage of works, including constructing an approach port on the Gdansk Bay and a land part with a lock, two gates, two swing bridges and an artificial island on the Vistula Lagoon, is planned to be completed already in 2022.
– The entire investment is divided into three stages. The first – the most spectacular – is the ditching of the Spit. The second – to be implemented from April 2021 – is the modernisation of the waterway of the Elbląg River and the construction of a bridge in Nowakowo. The third is the waterway deepening – a tender is currently being organised for this stage. The first ships will sail through the Vistula Spit already in 2022 – recalls the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Marek Gróbarczyk.
The load tests on the North Bridge – the second structure ensuring permanent traffic on regional road No. 501 – have already started.
At the beginning of June this year, tests and trial loads took place, and at the end of June, the South Bridge was opened to vehicular traffic. Both crossings are among the longest rotating structures of this type in Poland, with a total length of over 60 metres and weighing approx. 550-560 tonnes.
The swing bridges will be alternately opened when vessels pass through the shipping channel. Thanks to this, traffic on the regional road will not be stopped, and drivers will not be stuck in traffic jams.
At the beginning of December 2021, the construction site’s equipment and cubature objects installation works were commissioned. One of the most important of these is the Nowy Świat Harbour Master’s Office – the heart of the entire crossing. The maritime administration will supervise traffic through the shipping channel. The new master’s office will also operate a lock and three swing bridges – two on the Vistula Spit and one (in emergency mode) in Nowakowo.
The master’s office will be staffed by a captain, deputy, inspection officers, port traffic officers and bosuns. The Maritime Office in Gdynia has been recruiting successively for the posts mentioned above.
In the frozen Vistula Lagoon, constructing an artificial Island is in progress. The 181-hectare area will be a refuge for birds. Most of the sheet pile wall and tie-beam installation works have been completed to date. Currently, work is focused on dredging and backfilling the island’s dikes. In addition, the laying of stone on the technical strip and of hydrotechnical stone on the slope is in progress.
The general contractor has ambitious plans despite the winter weather, which has hampered hydrotechnical works. In the coming months, these include works on the Gdansk Bay, including the completion of the backfilling of the cofferdam on the West Breakwater and further construction of reinforced concrete structures on both breakwaters. In the lock area, sheet piling caps assembly will be continued. The installation of steel structure elements of the gates and hydrotechnical equipment is also planned.
Other parts of the investment are also gaining momentum. Currently, the banks of the Elbląg river are being enclosed, which is part of the reconstruction of the existing fairway, about 10.4 km long. In addition, a very important investment, especially from the point of view of Nowakowo residents, is the construction of a swing bridge about 650 metres from the existing pontoon bridge.
The new crossing will make it possible to remove the navigational barrier currently posed by the pontoon bridge. The investment will also include constructing a new over the 1.5-kilometre section of a district road along the western bank of the Elbląg River, supplemented by a path for pedestrians and cyclists along with access routes.
The Maritime Office in Gdynia has announced a tender for the next stage of works, namely the deepening of the waterway in the Vistula Lagoon.
The new waterway from the Gdansk Bay through the Vistula Spit to Elblag is nearly 25 kilometres. The NDI/Besix consortium is the contractor for the construction works entitled “Construction of the Waterway Connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdansk – Part I”.
Work is also underway on the second part, encompassing the banks of the Elbląg river and the construction of a swing bridge in Nowakowo. Their contractor is Budimex S.A. Concerning the third part, integrating the entire investment, namely the deepening of the waterway on the Vistula Spit, a tender procedure is underway. The investor for the entire project is the Maritime Office in Gdynia.
In the picture: Progress of works on construction of the navigation channel through the Vistula Spit. Photo: NDI/Besix press release.