The investment to create a new waterway on the Vistula Spit is taking its final shape. The navigation channel lock has already been filled with water to the target level, which means that the connection of the Vistula Lagoon and the Bay of Gdańsk has become a reality. Most of the work on the shelter harbour and the artificial island has been completed.
– The Vistula Spit Reconstruction, which will shorten and simplify shipping and make it no longer necessary to use the Pilawa Strait, looks magnificent and impressive. Every time I visit, I am happy to see how the work is progressing and that the construction is reaching its final stages,” said Deputy Infrastructure Minister Marek Gróbarczyk.
The construction of the Vistula Spit diversion, built as part of the first part of the investment, is a highly complex engineering and technological project. Its investor is the Maritime Office in Gdynia and the general contractor is a consortium made up of NDI from Sopot and Besix from Belgium.
– The investment includes the construction of a sheltering harbour on the side of the Gulf of Gdańsk, a navigation channel with a lock and locking structure together with waiting berths on the side of the Gulf of Gdańsk and the Vistula Lagoon, and a new road system with movable steel bridges with a vertical axis of rotation, which will enable passage over the channel. In addition, an artificial island is planned to be built on the Vistula Lagoon – said Wiesław Piotrzkowski, Director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia.
Lock walls in disassembly
Although the general contractor still has about three months to complete the works, most of the most important works have already been carried out. Among other things, the sluice gates of the navigation channel have been flooded, which will level the difference in water levels in both reservoirs and prevent their mixing. The technological walls closing the sluice from the north and south sides are now being dismantled. The final removal of the walls will mean that the Lagoon will actually be connected to the Bay.
In the navigation channel area the finishing touches are still being put to the assembly of hydro-technical equipment, as well as tests and operation tests of gates and swing bridges from the Master Control System, which will be managed from the newly-built Captain’s Office building. Its employees will be responsible for the general supervision of navigation safety, environmental and fire protection as well as for the control of the sluice crossing.
What on the Bay?
Apart from that, intensive works are still carried out in both the eastern and western parts of the sheltered harbour on the Gulf of Gdańsk. The laying of rubble stone and “x-block +” concrete blocks to protect the breakwater against wave action is still in progress. It is the first time this technology has been used on the Vistula Spit in Poland and second time in Europe.
The concrete base and levelling layer has already been completed and the superstructure is still under construction. In addition, about half of the hydro-technical equipment has been installed on the western side.
What on the island?
There is also a lot going on in the area of the artificial island, which is to have a total area of 181 hectares, where birds will find refuge.
– The dredging and tie-in work is almost complete. Also completed are the dredging works related to drawing out the silt from inside the cofferdam and works related to backfilling the cofferdam,” lists Jacek Szymański, Project Director from the NDI/Besix consortium. – In addition, geotextile works were carried out on 57 sections, hydrotechnical stone on the technical strip on 52 sections, on the slope on 47 sections and in accordance with the target cross-section on 37 sections. The cofferdams have been cut down to “0” level on 37 sections.
There is still a lot of work to be done in the electrical, teletechnical and sanitary sectors. For instance, installation of CCTV cameras (outside the breakwaters), warning loudspeakers in the area of bridges, road lighting and variable message signs on the fairway are still in progress. The construction of a linear drainage system is also still in progress.
One kilometre long, five metres deep
All work is still expected to take about two months. The general contractor is working to schedule.
Ultimately, the new navigation channel is to be one kilometre long and five metres deep. When all the parts of the project are completed in 2023, the port of Elbląg will receive vessels with a draught of up to four and a half metres, length of up to 100 metres and width of up to 20 metres.
The second part of the investment, i.e. the Elbląg riverbank enclosure with a new bridge in Nowakowo, is also under construction. The contractor for this part is Budimex SA. Mobilisation of units and preparatory works within the third part, comprising construction of the waterway on the Vistula Lagoon, is also underway. This work will be carried out by a consortium of NDI Group and Przedsiębiorstwo Robót Czerpalnych i Podwodne.