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We are building St. Petersburg. Western Speed Diameter

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Crossing St. Petersburg from the North to the South in 20 minutes. Or exit Vasilievskiy Island at any time of day or night. Some 20 years ago this seemed impossible. Traffic jams in the historic city center combined with bridge drawing schedule – all that formed the timetable for residents of St. Petersburg. However, very soon the rhythm of the city will change - thanks to the 6.6 kilometer-long highway, one of St. Petersburg’s key transportation arteries. The Western Speed Diameter.

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We’re coming out, I will call three times. Don’t leave us on our own here, ok?

In reality, the most dangerous thing for a man is not when one is afraid, but when one feels comfortable at a great height. That’s when a mistake can happen. Usually, its either total amateurs or very experienced ones who make mistakes. 

Crossing St. Petersburg from the North to the South in 20 minutes. Or exit Vasilievskiy Island at any time of day or night. Some 20 years ago this seemed impossible. Traffic jams in the historic city center combined with bridge drawing schedule – all that formed the timetable for residents of St. Petersburg. 

However, very soon the rhythm of the city will change - thanks to the 6.6 kilometer-long highway, one of St. Petersburg’s key transportation arteries. The Western Speed Diameter. Cars started driving there in 2008, when the first part of the Southern segment was launched. Nowadays, the final – Central segment of the WSD – is being completed. 

Ruben Terteryan, CEO “Center of transportation planning in St. Petersburg”: “The Western Speed Diameter is one of the key elements in the high-speed transportation system of St. Petersburg. Right now it mostly consists of a circular highway. When the project is completed, we will have another road, crossing the city from the North to the South. 

This highway solves the task of diverting transport through the high-speed road and, first and foremost, it will allow residents of the suburbs to travel into the central part of St. Petersburg. We are primarily talking of those living in Vasileostrovskiy, northern parts of Admiralteiskiy and Central districts. 

Even before  the Central segment was completed, the car flow on the WSD had reached 160 thousand vehicles per day. Presence of tolls on this highway never deterred drivers too.

Alexey Bnatov, CEO “Magistral Severnoi Stolitsy”: Today, there are no doubts that the tasks initially set for the Western Speed Diameter will be completely fulfilled. Moreover, we don’t think that the set goals were not as much ambitious as the practical side of using the WSD for the development of the region has proved to be.

More than half of the Western Speed Diameter has been built on artificial constructions – bridges. This is the most important peculiarity of the highway. And, accordingly, all works have been supervised by professionals in this field. Alexey Malkov is one of the key specialists at the Central Segment of the Western Speed Diameter. 

We are going up to 100 meters. That’s nothing. The Eiffel tower – if im not mistaken – is 325 meters high. 

Be careful!

Andrey Borisovich, you will be on the end of our procession

Im not going up

Why?

Alexey Vasilievich, im also afraid of heights

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “Magistral Severnoy Stolitsy”: “The Central segment is the most complicated one from the construction point of view. Even from a blueprint point of view too. It has a huge number of engineering constructions – exits and bridges. 

My main responsibilities – quality control, making sure deadlines are met, that our subcontractors adhere to construction technologies. The most important things, certainly, are quality and deadlines. 

Alexey Bnatov, CEO “Magistral Severnoi Stolitsy”: “Our engineering department ranks among top-100 bridge-builders in the world – and they have ensured that success we can now see here. Whatever I tell you now, I still won’t be able to fully underline the importance of an engineer in this project. Words can never express it. 

“We are pulling the anchor roost to minus three, knock it down to 100 percent and then move to minus 4. So this has been confirmed? 

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “Office work is first and foremost to research and coordinate blueprints, all sorts of projects, technological regulations – all that has to be agreed on, or disagreed on, in case their quality doesn’t meet construction norms and regulations. 

The most technically difficult parts of the WSD’s Central segment go through Neva’s water zone. The pride of the highway is the so-called two-storied truss. It’s at 52 meters above the Sea canal. 

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “Here we can see the pillar number 15, roller devices – because the construction is done with a launching method. We are putting this together step by step, block after block. Lift it up, joined one block with the other, move on. Roll back, put a new block in, move on”

Besides that, the central segment has two cable bridges. One over the Petrovskiy seaway, another – through Korabelniy. 

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “So here is how I have to traverse several times a day – between Kanonerskiy and Vasilievskiy Islands – to fulfil my direct responsibilities. I am actually lucky – since it only takes me 7 minutes to get from one bank of Neva to the other. Ordinary residents spend much more time than me for this”

Alexey Malkov is responsible for building the bridge over Korabelniy seaway – which will connect Vasilievskiy and Kanonerskiy islands. 

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “This cable bridge over Korabelniy seaway – it literally grows as we speak. The project takes the exact shape as we have been seeing on the blueprints. And this give pleasure – not just to me, but probably to every construction worker”

Russian companies aside, there are seven foreign subcontractors taking part in the construction of the Western Speed Diameter. Italian, Turkish, Danish and French firms solve different issues – from laying asbestos to installing anchor roosts. The overall number of engineers and construction workers operating on site these days reaches 5 thousand people

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “It’s a huge number of people involved daily – on these segments alone, around a thousand people work – mounters, welders, carpenters, iron workers. Those people who are absolutely indispensable for this type of construction” 

He used to be asbestos specialist, today he’s been an engineer for 8 years. Alexey Malkov took part in building the Bolshoi Obukhovskiy Bridge, then worked at the Southern segment of the WSD, spent a few months in Vladivostok building a cable bridge, worked in Moscow. But when the construction of the Central Segment of the WSD began, he returned to his native city.

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “Magistral Severnoy Stolitsy”: “I’ve always wanted to work for the good of St. Petersburg. Certainly, this was an unmissable opportunity – being the resident of St. Petersburg and being able to work on this project for the city”

Alexey studied in St. Petersburg, at the Architecture-Construction University – one of the oldest in the country. 

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “I received excellent education, which would stay with me for the rest of my life. The knowledge which I got here – I am successfully applying it for the good of the city, or, maybe, for the whole humanity”

Moreover, according to Alexey Malkov, bridge building is not just about work, it’s also love to the history of St. Petersburg. Interest in the past – based on which one can draw inspiration for projectsof the present.

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “Walking through the embankments and bridges of St. Petersburg, we – as professionals – are first and foremost interested in how those are built, which materials were used. If we talk about modern-day bridge building – we are now able to build cable bridges. Only thanks to modern-day technologies of putting metallic constructions together, we are able to create what may become the future symbol of St. Petersburg. I’m talking about the Central segment of the WSD”

The blueprint of the Western Speed Diameter was designed by engineers back in 1966. Leningrad’s authorities understood that sooner or later the city would need a highway which would unload the city’s center from heavy traffic. 50 years on, such highway is no longer a distant dream. Its not just a blueprint or an image on a computer screen. All three segments – the Northern, the Southern and the Central – are about to appear on the city’s map.

Alexey Bnatov, CEO “Magistral Severnoi Stolitsy”: “When somebody asks – are state authorities always about huge bureaucracy process? – I agree with it. It certainly exists. But in our case, considering mutual interests and fulfillment of this partnership between the state and a private company, we have no such complications. During the three years, the city has been effectively cooperating with us – so much, that sometimes we’ve been finding it hard to keep up with its demands and requests. Usually it’s the other way around – the authorities cannot keep up with the businesses. Not in our case, definitely”

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “Magistral Severnoy Stolitsy”: “The bases are built, the pillars have been installed. Now we are mounting the main metallic parts, which will be followed by waterproofing, laying concrete and applying architectural elements – but all that is the easier part. The main part of the engineering job is done”

Cars will start moving down the Central segment of the WSD in August 2016. It will be then that the city can be crossed in the record-setting 20 minutes – without violating traffic rules.

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “I have a personal professional motivation. I want to reach the top level of professionalism. And my family motivates me for that too. I want to be a good example for my future kids, for my entire family”

I think this job is very manly. Why? Because in spite of any weather conditions you are going to the site and doing your job. 

Afer the construction of the WSD’s Central segment is completed, millions of drivers will receive a valuable gift – time. How to use it – it’s up for us to decide. We are building our city. Every one of us is building St. Petersburg. 

Alexey Malkov, bridge construction engineer at “MagistralSevernoy Stolitsy”: “Every one of us, including me, gave a piece of ourselves to the city. We give it the best we have – so that the project is completed and serves the city for a very long time. 

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