The load test upon the viaduct will consist of 32 trucks and shall bring the attention of many onlookers and neighbors. It is foreseen that cars will be able to circulate over the viaduct tomorrow.
Absolutely unique. The Head of the Asturian Highway Authority, Ignacio García Arango, stated yesterday that the Santos Bridge “is the first in the world to be widened from an existing structure, so each step meant a certain scientific spirit”. In reality, science and calculations have made it possible for the Cantabrian Motorway to plough its way through the River Eo and join Asturias and Galicia together. The opening of the Barres-Ribadeo stretch still has its date to be confirmed, but with it, according to the Government representative in Aviles, Antonio Trevín, 64% of the western motorway shall be completed.
The last step before opening is the load test. According to García Arango,”these tests do not hold the uncertainty they did 50 or 60 years ago, as nowadays we have guarantees and know the behavior of the materials.
The load test began at 8 in the morning with the closing of the viaduct, with the participation of more than 60 people amongst technicians, operatives and truck drivers. The majority of the latter coming from the Aviles Transport Cooperative, who took their turn at each side of the viaduct to place their heavy trucks into place and test the elasticity of the bridge. It is a long drawn out process which shall finish today as it requires numerous checks. There are six load states altogether, with which the intention is to obtain the maximum bending moments and torsion of the deck. The Head of Highways explained that "many circumstances are tested and that’s why it takes so long. We place the load at one side, the other, in the middle. We measure before and afterwards to see the behavior of the viaduct. It is totally millimetric and that is why we need the bridge free of traffic to be able to control the weight at all moments”.
Altogether there were 32 trucks which measured 10.75m long by 2.6m wide and weighed 38tonnes. That is to say the bridge may withstand a maximum weight of 1,216tonnes. The Ministry of Public Works chose this weekend to carry out the tests as it is the one with the lowest volume of traffic, at least regarding heavy load traffic. The measurements were finished off at ten o’clock that night. Meanwhile, the vehicles which travelled to Galicia were detoured onto the N-640 towards Vegadeo, and those which were going in the opposite direction along the N-642 between Ribadeo and Vegadeo.
The road was cut off for a total of 28 hours altogether; 14 each day, between 8 in the morning and 10 at night. These total cuts are the first registered in the Works of the viaduct. Over the 20 months which the works have lasted there have been numerous cuts in one direction or another, but it has always been possible to circulate from one shore to another. One of the main challenges in this Project to duplicate the carriageways was to do so with the least disturbance to the rolling traffic.
The bridge received many visits yesterday from onlookers and neighbors from Asturias and Galicia who were finally able to cross the viaduct on foot, something which was forbidden since the Works began in January 2007. Yesterday, the pavements allowed the crossing of the 600m of the viaduct, which also offers one of the best views of the Eo Estuary. With the finishing of the bridge, the 4.6Km Barres-Ribadeo stretch is practically finished. García Arango indicated there are still one or two finishing touches to be carried out, such as the railings which were being installed yesterday.
Notwithstanding, The Head of the Highways Authority could not concrete the date to inaugurate the stretch of motorway. It is foreseen that cars may circulate across the viaduct as from tomorrow.