Bridges, in simple words, are the structures that offer a platform to cross over physical obstacles on a passage. Connecting two far-off points, bridges have been built over rivers, valleys and roads etc. As constructions to join two separated travel routes, bridges are extremely necessary and practicable. The history of bridges dates back to the origin of the universe since there are naturally formed bridge-like structures, also called natural arch, across the world. However, the human history has witnessed an evolution of bridges with technological advancements resulted in several engineering marvels.
Several of bridges are being built in every year across the world with different designs and materials to meet specific requirements. Crossing over several of physical obstacles, we now have a beam, arch, cantilever, cable-stayed, suspension, and truss types of bridges that connect vehicles and trains with two separated points. However, where conventional bridges are built to connect roads and railway lines and accommodate vehicles, there are some bridges that help navigable waterway canals to cross over other rivers, roads and valleys etc. These water bridges, known as aqueducts, are examples of engineering genius of humans.
The Magdeburg Water Bridge
In Germany, architects have devised a water bridge that connects two water-bodies, not just by concrete but by water itself. The Magdeburg Water Bridge, built in the year 2003, is an ingenious architectural offspring that functions as an effectual conduit between the Elbe-Havel and the Mittelland Canal, crossing over the River Elbe in Germany. Being the largest canal underbridge in the continent, the Magdeburg Water Bridge allows the vessels to move between the Rhineland and Berlin comfortably.
The bridge was built since the course of the River Elbe is at a considerably lower height as compared to the two canals which have a confluence point at Magdeburg near the country capital, Berlin. Due to receding water levels of the river, the cargo carrying barges and vessels faced a lot of problems because they to firstly climb upstream from one canal point, then downstream with the route of the river and then again upstream to reach their docking destination at the other canal point, crossing a distance of nearly 12 km in totality.
Specifications of Magdeburg Bridge
The 918 meter-long Magdeburg Bridge is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world. The water bridge has a width of 34 metres with awater depth of 4.25 metres for the vessels to pass through. At least 24,000metrical tons of steel along with over concrete 68,000cubic metres were used to build the Channel Bridge, allowing large commercial vessels to pass through.
The Canal Bridge comprises two parts such as the Main Bridge and the Approach Bridge. The bridge also features a double lock that was constructed to enable vessels to descend from the level of the bridge and Mittelland Canal to that of the Elbe-Havel Canal. In addition, a single lock was built at Rothenseein order to help vessels descend from the bridge level to the Elbe and the Magdeburg harbour. Though following a similar structural design, both bridges follow a different design approach and this change in design is illustrated by the tall concrete towers positioned on the three abutments. The Main Bridge is a 3-span continuous steel beam bridge, while the Approach Bridge is a multi-span steel beambridge.
History of Magdeburg Water Bridge
The idea generation of the Bridge Channel is not contemporary. On account of the exceedingly pivotal and arduous trade route that the vessels needed to undertake in the olden times, engineers at the start of the 20th century had proposed to design such a bridge which would connect the two water bodies without any excess strain or time-lapse caused to the vessels. And while the construction originally started in the 1930s, the onset of the Second World War and the resultant partition of the nation deferred the construction plans for a nebulous period of time. After the war, East Germany was not interested in resuming work on the bridge project since the east-west trade was no longer significant in the context of the Cold War.
In the 1990s after the nation was unified, the German government proposed 17 transport projects in the country to rebuild the communication links. As part of this decision, the construction proposal of the Magdeburg Canal Bridge was renewed and in the year 1997, the construction work was re-started on the conduit. In addition to the building of a bridge, the project also included the extension of the Elbe-Haval Canal. Designed by IgenieurbüroGrasslGmbh and the main contractors of the project were Bilfinger Berger and Dillinger Stahlbau.
Post the construction of the Channel Bridge, which took nearly six years and a budget of about 500 million Euros, a steady route was established for the navigators. All-in-all, the route establishes connectivity between the inner located harbours of the city of Berlin along with those, located by the River Rhine.
In terms of architectural envisioning, the Magdeburg conduit is an example of exemplary superiority. It might not be ranked among the prestigious wonders built across the world, but it does feature in a unique and unsurpassed designing of its own.