Saturday, May 20, 2006

Building bridges 

Today Ultimas Noticias gave an update on the new bridge being built over the Orinoco river. Next week the last section of this massive bridge will be installed and it is expected that either later this month or in early June President Chavez and Brazilian President De Silva will inaugerate it.

First some background. The largest river in Venezuela is the Orinoco which runs from the south central part of the country to the to the north east where it empties into the Carribean. It is a very large river with a strong current. So large that bridging it is no easy task. For that reason up until now there has only been a single bridge that crosses. This is insufficient given that the major cities and industrial centers of Ciudad Bolivar and Ciudad Guyana lie on its eastern bank while more or less the whole rest of the country is to the west of it.

So the Venezuelan government has begun building other bridges across the river and it is the first of these that is being finished. It is quite an impressive structure. Here is the diagram of it published in todays paper:

Note that it will have four main towers supporting the center spans. It will have two lanes of traffice in either direction. Also, in accordance with the boom in Venezuelan rail line construction the center of the bridge will accomodate a rail line. And not least, it will be two miles long!

Here is a nice graphic of what the bridge will look like when it is finished:

The construction which is now being completed has been a massive undertaking as the following pictures show:

Note the five construction cranse in operation simultaneously. Pretty impressive.

The bridge has suffered from cost overruns and will wind up costing over $600 million dollars. It is a Brazilian company that has been responsible for the construction which is part of why the Brazilian president will help inaugerate it. Another reason is that it will help shorten travel time to Brazil. And for Venezuelans it will cut a hour and a half of the time needed to travel between Barcelona and Ciudad Guyana. Those wishing to read more on the bridge can do so here.

Also, construction on a third bridge over the Orinoco will begin shortly.

Lastly, here is a follow up to a post I did previously on all the imaginary rail lines being built in Venezuela. Ultimas Noticias published today an obviously faked photograph of new rail cars being transported to Caracas for the rail line to Tuy.

I first I thought the drivers on that highway were probably upset about the delays but then I remembered none of this is real anyways!


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