Built more than 100 years ago, and connecting Western and Eastern Europe, the Oder Bridge on the German-Polish border in Küstrin has since been seen as a symbol of Europe coming together.
Over time, as bridges get used by heavy transport, they need replacing, and for such a historic railway bridge a special replacement was designed which was to be carried out with minimal disruption to the rail network.
The new Oder Bridge is an innovation – a network arch bridge with carbon hangers: its sleek, light and soft design, a fitting symbol of innovation, openness and connection.
The 2,100t, 180m long bridge will help to increase line capacity and shorten travel times by allowing a maximum permissible speed of 120km/h.
Mammoet has plenty of experience in large-scale bridge launches, and the specialist heavy-lift equipment to move them as complete structures. This allows parallel work in the preparation phase and saves time.
This is why it was approached to install the bridge safely and with minimum disruption.
The bridge was assembled on the German side of the Oder and then moved, by Mammoet, as a whole structure across the river to its final installation position.
Koen Brouwers, Project Manager at Mammoet, said:
“Most bridges are floated into place using a combination of Mammoet Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs), launching plates and a pontoon. However, the use of a pontoon here was not possible due to the shallow, and changing, water levels of the river. Using a large crane, capable of positioning loads with a long reach, was also not feasible due to the weight and length of the bridge.”
Mammoet’s engineers therefore came up with a solution that avoided the use of both crane and pontoon.
This solution allowed work to happen regardless of the water level and made the operation more flexible, safer, and efficient.
After first jacking the bridge to 2m and positioning the SPMTs underneath, it was transported to the edge of the river where it was positioned over the first of five temporary supports.
The bridge was then launched using a combination of specially designed launching plates and strand jacks that pulled the structure horizontally until it reached the next temporary support.
This process continued until the bridge reached the opposite side of the river. The SPMTs on the rear of the bridge were then removed and skid shoes were installed to slide the bridge into its final position.
At this point, the bridge was taken over by climbing jacks, which allowed the temporary supports to be removed and the bridge to be lowered down to its final resting height.
Around 45 truckloads of specialist heavy equipment were mobilized for this project, including 96 axle lines of SPMTs, 26 launching plates, 10 climbing jacks and 2 strand jacks.
One of the key considerations for any bridge launch is the risk of deformation of its structure during the launch process, and this posed a big challenge for the engineering team.
To solve this, temporary supports with hydraulic cylinders were used at the quay edges and in the water, as well as modified launching plates.
Jack van der Vloet, Lead Engineer at Mammoet, said:
“It’s a big bridge and wind loads had to be considered. It has a large deflection, so the launching plates had to be modified. Typically, they swivel in two directions; however, in this case they had to swivel 360 degrees. This always gave us full control of the operation.”
The entire skidding equipment had to be customized to execute the operation technically. This meant that all launching plates were retrofitted with a spherical bearing so that they could be moved in all directions. During the launch the weight on each tower and cylinder was controlled to ensure a smooth and safe operation.
Due to the bridge’s size, all the available launching plates that Mammoet Europe had in stock had to be used. This was a technical and logistical challenge, but one easily handled thanks to its size and network.
New method for success
Infrastructure projects are crucial to support growing populations and economies, and as cities get busier these projects become more challenging.
Mammoet’s experience in large-scale bridge projects, and technical capabilities to move bridges as a complete structure, allows parallel work in the preparation phase and time and disruption savings.
Uwe Richter, Senior Sales Manager at Mammoet, said:
“It is very important to involve Mammoet at an early stage to support the preparation phase with technical and feasibility studies. This way, we can investigate the different execution options and decide on the best solution with the customer.”
Compared to other bridge projects where cranes or pontoons are used, Mammoet used a different method with modified launching plates. This smart solution can now be adapted for other bridge projects, where using a crane or pontoon is not possible or inefficient.