Azvi successfully launches the Zezelj Bridge arches in Serbia

The shunting manoeuvre of the large arch is comparable to moving the Eiffel tower.  

The bridge stands out as one of the largest span mixed-use railway bridges in the world.

The railway bridge was once used by the Orient Express.

Azvi has successfully completed the launch of the two arches which make up the Zezelj Bridge and its mooring to the pile in the middle of the River Danube – the second longest river in Europe – in the Serbian city of Novi Sad.

The Zezelj Bridge in Novi Sad was one of the seven bridges destroyed by bombings in what is now Serbian territory during the former Yugoslavian war. The new bridge has been built in the same position and external style as that bombed in 1999, taking advantage of the foundations of the affected central pile.

The Zezelj bridge is a mixed-use bridge for road and rail, 474 m long x 31,8 m wide, which will also have two lanes for bicycles and pedestrians. The two arches which make up this singular infrastructure are characterised by being one of the longest of its type in Europe (double-arched bridge with suspended mixed-use platform for rail and road vehicles) and one of the largest scale and weight to be launched using this technology.  It stands out as one of the largest spanning bridges in the world of this type (double arch with suspended platform).

The shunting manoeuvre of the large arch (220 m and 6,500 tons plus 400 tons of pontoon) is comparable to trying to move the Eiffel Tower. What is more, the total weight of the bridge’s metal structure (11,300 tons) is 4,000 tons greater than the Eiffel Tower (7,300 tons).

Each arch was built on either side of the river and launched until it rested on the central pile in the middle of the river.   The smallest arch measures 180m long, 32m high and weighs 4,700 tons. The larger arch is 220m long, 42m high and 6,500 tons. The metal structure of both arches has been reinforced to adapt to the high stress levels to be withstood during the different phases of the launch.   It is made up of five different structural systems which allow for its adaptation to the different positions and support during the manoeuvre. This internal reinforcement has been complemented with a number of temporary external piers which help to transfer forces and reactions during the manoeuvre and will be dismantled once the process is completed.

Works on the launch of the first, and smallest, arch located on the Petrovadarin bank, began by lifting it to a height of 1.6m with hydraulic jack at the end of August in order to create enough space beneath it to introduce the sliding gear.  Once this launching gear had been introduced, the arch was shunted 60m across land until enough of the bridge was overhanging the Danube to introduce a pontoon beneath.

After installing the pontoon and transferring loads, the arch was floated for 120m until reaching the central pile of the bridge. The arch was then lowered until it reached its final position on the pile located on the right bank.

In mid-September work began on the launch of the second arch. This was successfully completed on 20 October. The same process was followed with the larger of the two arches. Firstly, it was raised by hydraulic jack to 1.3m in order to allow room for the sliding gear to be placed beneath it and to remove the auxiliary structures employed during the construction of the arch and located on the banks of the River Danube. Once this launching gear had been installed, the arch was shunted 32m until a sufficient length was overhanging the River Danube to allow the pontoon to be placed beneath it. After the positioning of the pontoon and the transferring of load, the arch was floated for 155m until it reached its position on the central pile.

This important milestone in the construction project of the Zezelj Bridge across the Danube in the Serbian town of Novi Sad, brings it one step closer to its opening which is crucial for the development of road transport in Novi Sad and both freight and passenger rail transport on the Belgrade-Novi Sad-Subotica-Hungarian border line, connecting it to Budapest and the South of the Balkans.