An accident like the recent one in genoa, italy, could not happen in germany because of the close-meshed bridge inspections and the strict regulations of the federal office for road construction. Thomas pfeifer and georg muller, the man in charge of bridges at the northern bavaria freeway authority, agree on this.
In this country, they always try to rehabilitate in time. A current example is the friesental bridge near thurnau, over which the A 70 motorway runs.
Strict regulations – europe-wide
Actually there are two bridges. The one with the two lanes in the direction of bayreuth was newly built in 1989 and is still absout stable. The structure with the lanes in the direction of bamberg, however, dates back to 1961. "At that time, a standard load of 60 tons applied. At the beginning of the nineties, a load capacity of 60 plus 30 was assumed. That means one bridge has to be able to carry a sixty-ton and a three-ton truck at the same time.", georg muller explained at a site visit.
In the meantime, the regulations have been changed – throughout europe. According to the new regulations, there was a need for action. "In addition, prestressing steel was used in the construction. Under certain circumstances, this could have been prone to failure without prior notice", according to thomas pfeifer.
10000 tons of concrete will be used
In the past few weeks, the old bridge has been completely demolished. Now a new, load-bearing structure that complies with the latest regulations is rising into the sky. Three piers have already been concreted, the fourth is under construction. The formwork is already perfect. Now the concrete can go.
Two more piers are needed before the superstructure can be built. It is certain that the new roadway in the direction of bamberg will be completed before winter. The friesental bridge has a length of 122.7 meters and a maximum height of 17 meters. More than 10,000 tons of concrete are being used.
The local construction management is in charge of bernhard dirrigl. "The construction schedule is delayed a bit. But we will finish before winter", he is confident. This is particularly necessary because traffic is currently not only constricted on the autobahn bridge.
Soon more visibility
Closely linked to the friesental bridge is the underpass of the KU 17 district road between thurnau and limmersdorf. And it is being rebuilt on both sides and should look much more appealing in the future. "We have taken a design example from the A3 as a model. She should get an extended view", explained georg muller. The bridge is to become brighter and friendlier – with a sloping abutment.
"We are currently dreaming that we will be able to pour concrete in a few days," explained georg muller, said muller and smiled. "Our biggest problem is the shortage of skilled workers. Even big companies have problems finding enough people", pfeifer announced.
As once in babylon
On the construction site, there is currently an almost babylonian confusion of languages. Czech, romanian and turkish mannerists are at work. It is important that at least one worker in each language group can translate german commands. Otherwise, an understanding would be impossible.
Construction manager of the bogl company is waldemar schewalje. He is originally from kazakhstan, but attended school in germany, graduated from high school and studied civil engineering. "We do not have vacations in the summer. We have so much to do, he said.
At peak times, up to 40 workers are employed at the two related construction sites, he said.
The construction manager's phone rings again. A subcontractor suddenly can't provide enough workers after all. "The market is empty because construction is going on everywhere", shewalje knows the dilemma. But he has no understanding when promises are not kept. Work on the highway is currently being carried out in two shifts from 7 a.M. To 9 p.M.
Around the clock artisanship?
"I'm there from 7 a.M. To 6 p.M., only on fridays do we work a little shorter hours, so shewalje. If the pressure of deadlines intensifies, shift operation will be extended to 24 hours.
Schewalje assumes that the construction season will continue this year until 20. December goes. "Normally it goes on 7. January further, if the winter becomes very icy, not until 14.January", he said.
The bridges over the KU 17 and the friesental cost a total of 12.5 million euros. The costs are borne by the federal republic of Germany.