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Marvel deep; of the

ORESUND; The world's largest immersed tube tunnel opened last week to traffic - of a sort. Dave Parker was there.

Tuesday, 16 March 1999 was a major milestone in the £1.35Bn 0resund Fixed Link project.

At midday a tourist bus carrying the Danish transport minister and the Swedish minister for industry, employment and communications became the first vehicle to officially drive along the 4km length of the world's biggest immersed tube tunnel, from Copenhagen to a new man made island in the Baltic.

The £345M tunnel under the Drogden Channel is being built by an Anglo- Danish/ Dutch-Swedish joint venture, and Press and TV from all over Europe witnessed the event.

After the inevitable speeches, the serious business of the afternoon began. Two bars served Carlsberg lager to the hundreds of staff and workers from 0resund Tunnel Contractors who had gathered to celebrate the drive- through.

From a makeshift stage, local comedians, half-frozen Marilyn Monroe impersonators and rock bands in hard hats and fingerless gloves provided entertainment.

Party numbers were swollen by workers from the 7.9km long £573M bridge to the east that will complete the crossing from the man-made island to Malmo and finally link Denmark and Sweden together.

This is not due to be handed over until next year, although the last deck section on the central cable-stayed High Bridge was due to be placed yesterday.

The eastern viaduct is largely complete, and seven spans of the western approach viaduct are in position.

But Tuesday was 0TC's day, and many of those enjoying themselves in the tunnel were British. Most came from 0TC partner John Laing and the JV's in-house designer Symonds Travers Morgan. Pride in their achievement was obvious.

Building the tunnel had involved the pouring of nearly 500,000m3 of high-strength concrete and the float-out and positioning of 20 tunnel elements weighing 55,000t each.

At peak, the huge casting yard set up some 10km away was placing 8,000m3 of concrete each week.

Each enormous element was assembled at ground level and then slid 22m into a split level dock before being floated out. From first to last the casting operation occupied just 24 months of the five-year tunnel programme, despite the premature sinking of element 13 last year.

Within an overall width of 40m the tunnel will contain a pair of two- lane carriageways, two high-speed train tracks and a

service tunnel between the two road bores.

The full story of the 0resund Immersed Tube Tunnel project will be told in an NCE project study later in the year.

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