Ten year lock revamp completed in Emden
More than a decade after it was closed for renovation and expansion, the Nesserlander Schleuse - one of the two locks linking the busy German port of Emden with the sea - is finally open to shipping again.
The Nesserlander Schleuse connects Emden, a leading European automobile handling hub, with the Ems Estuary and the North Sea. Inaugurated in 1888 it underwent major renovations in the 1960s and 1980s before being closed down in late 2006.
Severe flooding in the area demonstrated that the lock did not meet stringent coastal defence requirements. It also suffered a collar bearing breakdown and was to boot no longer able to meet the demands of modern hinterland and coastal shipping.
Extensive renovation that began in 2006 was delayed by technical and legal problems and resumed after project re-reorganisation in 2014. Originally 140m long and 4m wide the renovated lock is now 180m long between gates and 24m wide with a gate width of 18m and a depth of 7m below sea level.
Among firms involved in the project was a consortium grouping the German construction firms August Prien in Hamburg and Gebr. Neumann in Emden. The others involved in various other technical aspects included Hollandia, MCE and Matthai.
Used in the renovation were some 30,000m3 of concrete, 6,500 tons of steel reinforcement, 700 running metres of sheet piling of up to 30m length and 1,000 tons of steel pilings of up to 40m length. Each of the two outer road draw bridges weighs 160 tons and the inner gate weighs 110 tons.
Lower Saxony Ports (NPorts), which was responsible for the project, said in December indications were that the work would cost less than the €110 million predicted in August 2016 but that a final figure would only be possible after all the bills were in.
When the renovation was first mooted, cost was estimated at about €30 million for renovation alone. This doubled when it was decided to also lengthen and widen the lock. The cost went up again when construction and engineering complications delayed completion. NPorts said at one point they it could reach €120 million.
While the Nesserlander Schleuse has been out of action, the port’s 260m long and 40m wide Grosse Seeschleuse has borne all the shipping burden in Emden.
That lock, built between 1907 and 1913, is itself now old and in need of renovation. The inauguration of the Nesserlander Schleuse comes at a good time to permit that and NPorts said the completion would “enormously ease the burden” on the Grosse Seeschleuse.
Consideration is now being given to the renovation of the bigger lock with unofficial reports putting a price tag of about €350 million on that project.
By Tom Todd
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