East Bridge girder “lifts” 15 mm when replacing bearings

In order for the Storebælt Bridge to last at least 100 years, it must be regularly maintained. This year it is time to replace the East Bridge bearings, which lie between the bridge piers and the bridge girder. This is a project that requires the girder to be raised 15 mm, in order that the replacement can go ahead.

The bridge girder carries the roadway. The girder is longer during hot summer weather than it is in winter. The bearings are underneath the girder and allow it to slide along them as it changes length due to the changes in temperature.

Two slide plates are inside each bearing. For 19 winters and summers, the girder has been moving on the bearings and the slide plates are now worn. They will be replaced this year as a result.

To replace the plates, the bridge girder needs to be lifted 15 mm. This is achieved by resting the bridge girder on jacks, instead of the bearings, and on six tonnes of steel structures.

Traffic will not be affected – although special loads will not be allowed

The work will be done at night during February and March. The only visible sign for road users will be a roadblock in the area in which the girder is raised. The barrier will be in place in order to avoid a build up of stationary traffic – and the heavy load that this represents – on top of the work area, should an accident occur. For the same reason, Storebælt will not authorise heavy transports of over 100 tonnes during the lifting period.

The bearings were originally installed in 1996, and the plan was that they should last approximately 25 years. The ones replaced this year have lasted for 19 years, while the others are expected to last another five to eight years.

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