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Gijón high-strength plate creates safe connection between Luxembourg and Germany

The use of high-strength steel met the architectural brief for a new bridge spanning the Moselle river, linking Grevenmacher in Luxembourg and Wellen in Germany. Tailor-made steel plates produced in ArcelorMittal’s Gijón steel plant went into the bridge which was officially opened on 2 June.

The engineering requirements called for the use of strong, lightweight, custom-made materials to achieve the refined, streamlined design, not to mention a very tight, four-and-a-half month construction schedule to minimise traffic disruption. Poncin, the company responsible for the project’s steel infrastructure, worked with ArcelorMittal which supplied tailor-made plates for the construction of the key bridge arch components, exploiting the full rolling capabilities of the ArcelorMittal Gijón mill in Spain.

Poncin and ArcelorMittal have a long-standing partnership, but the ability to deliver a quality result on time was crucial in winning the contract for this high-profile project because it presented an aesthetic challenge that spanned two countries and had to be completed speedily. “We needed reliable contractors, steelmakers capable of supplying custom-made products quickly,” explained Benoît Comblin, Poncin’s project engineer. “Despite the distance between the construction site and the workshops, the excellent service from ArcelorMittal’s Gijón plant helped keep us bang on schedule.”

Complete rebuild in four and a half months 

The old Grevenmacher bridge was built from pre-stressed concrete back in the 1950s, so the Luxembourg authorities decided it was time to replace it. For safety reasons, increased traffic on the bridge with some 17,000 vehicles crossing daily meant that it had to be entirely rebuilt. The old structure was demolished to make way for a 213 metre-long orthotropic deck bridge with four spans. One of the characteristics of the new structure is the absence of piers in the river to ensure the widest possible navigable clearance; the use of steel made this possible.

Despite the very short time frame, the ArcelorMittal steel for the project was delivered on schedule. In January 2013 Poncin began to build the steel frame for the bridge, which was assembled in the port of Mertert in March. While work was being completed on the central span stretching 113 metres from shore to shore, the old bridge was demolished during the annual lock closure, from 4 to 11 June. The deck elements linking the ground level with the aerial section were transported by lighter barge then brought into position using jacks. 

The materials for the bridge were custom made. “We hardly used any rolled sections,” said Benoît Comblin. 
“This trend towards using high-strength steel grades to build engineering structures offers designers two advantages: lightness and elegance,” ArcelorMittal account manager Nicolas Dujardin explained. 

Photo credits: Gilles Martin – Infosteel

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