Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The bridge also rises

It's troubled by water, in Spain between Madrid and Barcelona; Manuel Melis, one of Spain’s top railway engineers, points out, there is a problem. A serious problem. “We call it the ascending viaduct, like our Lord. It’s the first viaduct in the world that instead of sitting plugged into the ground at the level it was built, has grown in height.”
The bridge, which lies close to the village of Montblanc, in Tarragona province, was opened in 2003, and soon after, its gradual but unstoppable ascent became clear: “It was easy to see; we’re not talking about a few millimeters, it rose by 40 centimeters, meaning that the train [AVE, High Speed Rail] had to slow down to 80 kilometers an hour [about 50 MPH] to cross it,” says a geologist who works for the civil service and asked not to be named.
The pillars holding the bridge up are built on foundations of anhydrite and gypsum, which expand when they come into contact with water. The cost of solving the problem of the ascending bridge was €43.5 million. “A huge amount of earth had to be removed to prevent the anhydrite from hydrating and the bridge from continuing to rise,” says Melis. The valley floor was filled with 1.4 million cubic meters of soil, along with vast quantities of cement, to strengthen the foundations. Nobody at the engineering division of the Public Works Ministry, Ineco, wanted their name associated with the job.
One wonders why not, as that's the way things are done in Spain;
Between 2008 and 2014, the Public Works Ministry has paid out €5.12 billion to modify already completed works. A further €4.1 billion has been paid to cover cost overruns, along with €900 million for expropriating land. In total, over the last six years, the Public Works Ministry has had to find more than €10 billion to cover cost overruns on roads, rail and ports, the same amount that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would be cutting from health and education spending in April 2012, shortly after he took office. 
Meanwhile, the privately financed Millau Viaduct continues to carry traffic between Paris and Barcelona.

No comments:

Post a Comment