AFTER repeated delays, the 107-year-old Zhejiang Road Bridge over Suzhou Creek was finally lifted from its foundations yesterday and made a short, but technically arduous, journey to a local shipyard where it will undergo a seven-month repair program.
The project got under way at 5am, when a crane began the task of lifting the massive superstructure onto a waiting barge. It was then carried a short way along the creek, before being transferred to a pair of trucks for the final leg.
Despite the entire journey being only 100 meters as the crow flies, the process took almost 18 hours, project manager Qian Cheng, from Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute, told Shanghai Daily at the site.
Some of the hairiest moments were when the bridge was first lifted onto the barge and then lifted back off them and onto a pair of low loaders, he said.
Despite the complexity of the process, the trucks, complete with their hefty cargo, arrived safely at the shipyard by midnight.
“The move is one of the most difficult parts of the project,” he said earlier yesterday.
“It involves moving both on the river and on the ground, which makes the horizontal control very difficult,” he said.
“You have to make sure the structure doesn’t fall apart.”
The bridge was stripped of 200 tons of extraneous weight prior to the move, and the team used a computer simulator to rehearse the project prior to embarking on the real thing, Qian said.
Despite the detailed preparations, the move had to be postponed several times due to inappropriate conditions on the creek, he said.
“The delay was because the water level was too high, which meant the engineering ship couldn’t get under the bridge,” Qian said.
Yesterday, the conditions were just right.
Over the next seven months, the century-old bridge will be completely renovated, including replacing its deck.
“We will replace the concrete deck with a steel one, which will reduce its total weight from more than 600 tons to about 410 tons,” Qian said.
“The weight loss will increase its lifespan,” he said, adding that once refurbished the bridge should be good for at least another 50 years.
Crowds of people turned out yesterday to watch as the project got under way.
A woman surnamed Wu said that she was keen to see what was happening as she used to travel across the bridge on her way to work.
“I used to take the bus over the bridge every day, and I can’t wait to see what it will look like after the revamp,” she said.