Road to Crimea
Construction of the bridge across the Kerch Strait has transformed from an idea into a project that begins to take shape.
Project of the century
The bridge across the Kerch Strait is to be among the largest in Russia. It will be 19 km long. Under the project, the bridge will consist of parallel road and rail sections. The crossing starts on the Taman peninsular, runs along the existing 5km-long dam as far as Tuzla Island. Then the bridge crosses the Kerch Strait, going around Cape Ak-Burun from the north towards the Crimean shore.
Project documentation under the project was approved on February 18, 2016. Simultaneously, GlavGosEkspertiza (Russia’s General Board of State Expert Review) verified the estimated cost of the project – RUB 211,851,575,700 in prices of in QIV’2015.
Kerch Strait Bridge (Crimea) will become fully operational from December 2019, Roman Novikov, head of Uprdor “Taman” (federal government institution that ordered the construction), told IAA PortNews during the first press tour to the Kerch Bridge construction site.
Roman Novikov explained that before obtaining the state expert approval possible terms of construction were based on similar projects implemented in the Russian Federation before.
“Having obtained the state expert approval we were able to estimate the time required for construction basing on actual technologies applied and on real conditions, primarily geological and seismic ones. -Roman Novikov emphasized. – Launching of the highway part of the bridge in 2018 is principle and possible for us, as well as the delivery of the completed bridge in 2019, including inauguration of its railway part.”
In stormy conditions
The Kerch Strait is the area of high seismic loads, challenging geological and meteorological conditions. Few people know about the bridge to Crimea built in 1944. It existed for slightly more than three months. On February 18, 1945, ice movements caused the collapse of 50 support structures (of 115) followed by the bridge spans.
The new design takes into consideration the specific features of the region. In some sections with a thick layer of muddy bottom the piles are driven to the depth of 90 meters. For higher seismic stability of the support structures the piles are driven not only vertically but also at an angle.
Experts of the Krylov State Research Center have tested the operation of the future bridge in severe storm and ice drift conditions. For that purpose the bridge model made by 3D printer (1:50) was tested both in the wind-tunnel facility and in the ice basin with moving ice fields and ridges. The findings were used for the development of the design documentation.
The period of construction works in the Kerch Strait is limited to 250 days per year due to weather conditions, says Leonid Ryzhenkin, Kerch Bridge Construction Manager, Stroygazmontazh LLC. He explained that stormy days are included in the schedule. When weather does not allow for execution of works in the water area construction works go on at land sections: reinforcement of support structures, concrete works etc.
Leonid Ryzhenkin told that three auxiliary bridges across the Kerch Strait are under construction to ensure round-the-clock operations on supply of equipment and materials.
The first auxiliary bridge (AB-1) is already operational. Construction of the 1,860-meter long AB-2 is in its active phase, As of April 20, 63 of 85 span structures have been completed. Leonid Ryzhenkin says AB-2 will come close to the channel’s support structure from the Taman Peninsula side. 2,100-meter long AB-3, which is also under construction, will link the Crimean shore with the other support structure of the channel part. The auxiliary bridges are to be completed by June 2016 with the construction of the channel support structures to begin this year.
The main span between those support structures will be 227 meters wide for easy passage of vessels. “When the Kerch Strait Bridge is put into operation the auxiliary bridges will be disassembled,” added Leonid Ryzhenkin.
“The first task under construction is to prepare the foundation for support structures, - told Roman Novikov. — The dynamics is obvious by today. A month ago we announced the figure of 35 piles driven. Today we have 513 piles driven, seven support structures ready and operations underway at all the on-shore sites.”
According to Roman Novikov, more than 5,000 piles will be driven and 595 support structures will be built throughout the project implementation. As of today, three support structures of the railway part and four support structures of the automobile part are ready.
Leonid Ryzhenkin explained that foundations differ depending on the geological conditions. For example bored piles are used at the Taman Peninsula, prism piles – at the Kerch Peninsula, with pipe piles of 1,420 mm in diameter making the bulk of the foundation.
The Kerch Strait is a heavy traffic zone. Therefore, safe navigation is an important aspect during the construction period. Special aids to navigation were placed in the water area. Light buoys of three colours show the limits of the construction site outside the fairway of the Kerch-Yenikalsky canal. The water area within the construction zone excluding the canal fairway is closed for navigation. It is only open for the fleet of RF Navy, federal security forces and crafts involved in construction.
The damage caused by the Turkish cargo ship Lira which crashed into the support structure No 80 of AB-2 bridge on March 20, 2016 will be eliminated on a scheduled basis. “To escape undertaking of special measures and spending of extra funds to eliminate the damage caused by the incident we will manage it as soon as we approach the support structure No 80,” explained Roman Novikov.
Kerch Strait Bridge clearance of 35 meters will ensure that it does not obstruct the navigation.
Most cargoes for construction of the Kerch Strait bridge (bridge to Crimea) are delivered by road and rail transport, some cargoes come by water. More than 12 mln t of materials and structures will be delivered under the project. The storage grounds have been created at Kerch and Taman.
Roman Novikov told about a cargo yard that was put into operation in April in the area of railway station Portovaya being built at Taman. It already accepted first 12 trains with more than 20,000 t of construction cargoes. Those new facilities make it possible to unload cargoes 32 km closer to the construction site.
Creation of the cargo yard is among the activities aimed at improvement of the construction cargo logistics. Besides, some 25 kilometers of roads have been built, a technological way has been opened off the settlements and the network of regional roads.
Roman Novikov says this road simultaneously solves two problems – facilitates the delivery of cargo through separation of cargo and public transport routes and lets mitigate the impact on living conditions of the local population.
Minimization of environmental impact
Large scale construction cannot but has a negative impact on the environment. Special activities have been developed to minimize the ecological damage, tells Gleb Vatletsov, Deputy Director General of ICMIT LLC.
According to him, the environmental research findings were taken into consideration when developing the project. A flow in the Kerch Strait ensuring natural circulation of water has been saved though it meant higher costs under the project.
Five species of plants and three species of animals on the endangered-species list of the Krasnodar Territory as well as three species of plants on the endangered-species list of the Russian Federation have been transferred from the Zaporozhsko-Tamansky wildlife area. Besides, artificial breeding and feeding grounds will be created for migrating birds.
Sound barriers and about 1,500 trees will appear at the approaches to the bridge to reduce the noise load.
“Every three months we assess the impact of the construction activities on water, bottom sediments, air, flora and fauna. As of today, no significant impact has been observed, - said Gleb Vatletsov.— Collected, treated and uviolized drainage water will be discharged to the Black Sea and the Azov Sea at the depth of up to 300 meters.”