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Unconventional bridge construction

By Maj. Ladislav Ruzicka
First published in
SFOR Informer #93, August 2, 2000

Brcko (MND-N) -- Three national teams were involved in the construction of a civilian bridge in Brcko across the river Sava July 14. Actually it was the replacement of one almost 35m long part of an existing bridge.
The original prefabricated bridge was damaged during the war, so previous SFOR Hungarian Engineers replaced the damaged part by using Mabey-Johnson (M-J) bridge material in 1996. Now the European Union Bridge Reconstruction Unit requested SFOR to remove the military M-J Bridge at Brcko. So the time came to substitute temporary the M-J Bridge by concrete construction.
There were three fundamental phases of the replacement operation. The first phase was jacking up of M-J part, removing the deck units and the ramps. It was a task for Hungarian Engineers, supported by engineers of the US Army. The second phase, controlled by civilian contractor called Metalno Zenica, involved the connection of the old M-J Bridge to the new concrete bridge and continued by delaunching the old bridge by dragging the entire structure across the gap. In doing so, the contractor launched his concrete bridge. The third phase completed the disconnection of the new concrete bridge from M-J part and securing the new bridge part. At the end, Hungarian and US Army engineers dismantled the M-J Bridge.
"I prepared with the legal advisers a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to effect transfer of ownership of the military bridge to the contractor during the Phase Two of the operation. This means that if anything will go wrong during this phase, then the contractor is responsible for reimbursing SFOR," clarified Maj. Richard Wardlaw, British Royal Engineer, HQ SFOR Engineer Operations Branch Staff Officer-Bridges.
The reason for the MOU was that the use of the M-J bridge in this way was unconventional and carried a greater element of risk then normal delaunch.
"In fact it is the first time in Bosnia that it has been used in this way. However, this technique has been used elsewhere in the world," said Wardlaw.
The European Union Bridge Reconstruction Unit has paid the contractor for the new bridge. The new Brcko bridge is a civilian bridge and the relevant road directorate will be responsible for its future inspection and maintenance.

Related links:
Engineering - bridges
Nations of SFOR: UK