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Published on : Thursday, December 5, 2013
FCC, the global infrastructure company headquartered in Madrid, has reached a 47 percent construction milestone for the AVE (high speed rail) Viaduct over the River Almonte in Spain. Upon completion, the viaduct will form part of the high speed Madrid-Extremadura Rail Line linking the capital with the border of Portugal.
The viaduct is designed to be 996 metres long with a 384 metre central arch span. When finished, it will have the longest concrete arch span in the world for a high-speed rail bridge, overtaking the Grünpen Bridge, which is 270 metres long. Excluding high-speed rail use, it will also have the third longest concrete arch span for a bridge in the world.
The viaduct is promoted by Adif, the railway infrastructure adminstrator, which is a state-owned company that answers to Spain’s Ministry of Development. It is located in the 6.3-kilometre-long Alcántara Reservoir/Garrovillas subsection, part of the Talayuela/Cáceres section of the high-speed line from Madrid to Extremadura, near the Portuguese border.
Alcántara Reservoir-Garrovillas section
The €82 million project consists of the construction of a new platform for a 6,265.65-metre length double high-speed track which runs between Garrovillas de Alconetar and Santiago el Campo, both in Cáceres Province. The project includes the construction of four viaducts – including the impressive River Almonte crossing.
Another noteworthy aspect of this project is the fact that the line crosses the Roman road known as the Vía de la Plata (Silver Way). In coordination with the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage of the Extremadura Regional Government, the proposed solution calls for the construction of a bridge of 16 m width in the crossing with the Vía de la Plata Roman road.
The project has a budget of €81,765,387 million, with the platform works for the Navalmoral de la Mata-Cáceres-Mérida section being co-financed by FEDER. FCC is carrying out the work in a joint venture with the Portuguese company, Conduril.
As a singular structure, the viaduct over the River Almonte is particularly impressive, at 996 metres long. The viaduct crosses the meeting point between the José María Oriol Reservoir, which is also known as the Alcántara Reservoir, and the River Almonte which has a width exceeding 350 metres at the viaduct site. The viaduct is divided into three different parts: the two access sections and one central section. The central section has an octagonal concrete arch, with variable edge height and a span of 384 metres.
The concrete arch design was chosen in order to overcome challenges posed by the width of the river and the subsequent obstacles to be bridged, as well as the impossibility of using piles in the riverbeds. The requirement to respect the environmental impact statement was also an important factor.
The construction project has been developed by FCC Technical Services, who will supervise the construction of the bridge. During the arch execution, the segments will be anchored to both the piles and the tower with a cable stayed-design, and installed by BBR, FCC’s technology system partner.
In Spain, the closest project this can be compared to is the Contreras Viaduct, located between the limits of the Cuenca and Valencia provinces, which is one of Spain’s civil engineering landmarks with a concrete railway arch measuring a 261-metre span.
Experience in bridge construction
In the last 15 years, FCC has built over one million square metres of bridges of all types using all modern construction methods. It has built the Alamillo bridge (Seville), the Azud del Oro bridge (Valencia), the Basarab viaduct (Romania), and the San Marcos viaduct (Mexico), the second highest in the world.
FCC is currently building major bridges such as the Centennial Bridge in Panama and the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Los Angeles (US), with a budget of €540 million. This year FCC inaugurated the €275 million New Europe Bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania, and completed work on 230m El Corgo Viaduct – the second highest in Europe. In the UK FCC recently won the £600m Mersey Gateway contract.