In what’s being hailed as an engineering masterpiece, two important German shipping
canals have been joined by a giant kilometer-long concrete bathtub. The new waterway
near the eastern town of Magdeburg opens Friday.
Even after you see it, it is still hard to believe !

Water Bridge in Germany.... What a feat!

Six years, 500 million euros, 918 meters long.......now this is engineering!

This is a channel-bridge over the River Elbe and joins the former East and West Germany,

as part of the unification project. It is located in the city of Magdeburg, near Berlin.

The photo was taken on the day of inauguration.

To those who appreciate engineering projects,  here's a puzzle for you armchair engineers  

and physicists.  Did that bridge have to be designed to withstand the additional weight of  

ship and barge traffic, or just the weight of the water?


It only needs to be designed to withstand the weight of the water!  

Why?  A ship always displaces an amount of water that weighs the same as the ship,   

regardless of how heavily a ship may be loaded.

Remember your high school physics, and the fly in an enclosed bottle project?  Similarly,  

the super sensitive scale proved that it didn't make any difference whether the fly was  

sitting on the bottom, walking up the side, or flying around.  The bottle, air, and fly were  

a single unit of mass and always weighed the same.
Public infrastructure projects are notorious for taking longer than expected, but Germany’s new water bridge
tying the Elbe-Havel canal to the important Mittelland canal, which leads to the country’s industrial Ruhr Valley
heartland, was over 80 years in the planning.

Engineers first dreamt of joining the two waterways as far back as 1919. Construction to bridge the Elbe river
near Magdeburg actually started in the 1930s, but progress was halted during the Second World War in 1942.
After the Cold War split Germany the project was shelved indefinitely, but things were put back on track
following reunification in 1990.

Taking six years to build and costing around half a billion euros, the massive undertaking will connect Berlin’s
inland harbor with the ports along the Rhine river. At the center of the project is Europe’s longest water bridge
measuring in just shy of a kilometer at 918 meters. The huge tub to transport ships over the Elbe took 24,000
metric tons of steel and 68,000 cubic meters of concrete to build.

The water bridge will enable river barges to avoid a lengthy and sometimes unreliable passage along the
Elbe. Shipping can often come to a halt on the stretch if the river’s water mark falls to unacceptably low levels.

“It’s important to us to make the waterways attractive to industry as a safe and environmentally friendly
transportation way,” German Transportation Minister Manfred Stolpe said at the opening ceremony on Friday,
according to the Associated Press.

Lock bursts

But the project's start wasn't free of mishaps, as one of the new locks near Magdeburg burst on Thursday,
eroding part of the bank and street. The damage will not hinder the use of the new passageway, however.

Barge captains will now be able to ship loads of up to 1,350 metric tons – the equivalent of 50 truckloads –
over the 34-meter wide and 4.25-meter deep water bridge. Previously, ships could only be loaded with 800
metric tons.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Achim Pohlman, president of the eastern
sector of the Federal Waterways Directorate, now expects shipping volumes to increase along the east-west
route. Whereas in 2002 around four million tons were moved, some are now forecasting seven million tons of
goods by 2015.

Critics, however, remain skeptical that such levels can ever be reached. That has led environmental group
BUND to call for ending the further planned canal expansion of the Havel and Spree waterways near Berlin,
which would allow larger Rhine barges to travel all the way to the German capital.

“The canalization of Havel and Spree for bigger Rhine boats would have fatal consequences for the natural
water supply in Berlin and Brandenburg. Falling water levels would dramatically drain wetlands and Potsdam’s
world cultural heritage would be threatened,” BUND said in a statement on Friday.  
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Courtesy of Claude B.