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Dam Complex Complete At Last

Published: August 17, 2011 (Issue # 1670)



  • City Governor Valentina Matviyenko, left, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the opening of the new $3.6 billion dam.
    Photo: ALEXEI DRUZHININ / RIA-NOVOSTI / The Associated Press

St. Petersburg is finally protected from potentially devastating flooding after the St. Petersburg Flood Protection Complex (FPC) was officially completed Friday.

The complex, located between the village of Gorskaya and the city’s naval suburb of Kronshtadt on Kotlin Island, is designed to hold at bay water levels rising up to 5 meters.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who took part in the opening ceremony, said the construction was “worthy of St. Petersburg.”

“It’s a grandiose construction. There is some technological beauty in it,” Putin was cited by Interfax as saying.

The opening of the dam was timed to coincide with the launch of a tunnel running underneath a new shipping canal to connect Kotlin Island and the southern and northern parts of the city. The six-lane tunnel is both a part of the dam complex, and the final part of the city’s 140-kilometer Ring Road.

The construction of the FPC was one of the city’s biggest and most complex projects, and regularly faced financial problems and ecological scandals.

St. Petersburg has been hit by more than 300 floods in the city’s 308-year history. It was a flood in 1955 that pushed the Soviet government to consider protecting the city with a dam.

Construction finally began in late 1979. The plan was to build a 25-kilometer dam complex that would curve around the Neva Bay to protect the city from the gulf beyond, but it was halted in the late 1980s because of ecological worries and a lack of funds.

In 2001, the Dutch government and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development sponsored initial research into the possibility of reviving the plans for the dam’s construction. Construction work resumed in 2005.

The protection barrier can close within thirty minutes of an alarm signal. Meteorologists warn of a possible flood 48 hours and then 24 hours beforehand. Meteorologists and dam workers keep a close eye on the water level in the final 24 hours, and if it looks set to rise 1.6 meters above the norm, the dam is closed.

The complex includes 11 dams, sluices that allow gulf water to go back and forth in measured quantities, two ship-passing facilities that also work as flood gates and a six-lane automobile road with bridges, a tunnel and transport interchanges.

Experts say completion of the barrier will save the city substantial sums of money.

Alexander Boutovsky, senior consultant and business development director for the Coastal and Rivers Division in Russia for the Dutch company of Royal Haskoning, said last year that the dam saves the city more than $100 million every year in potential flood damages. Haskoning provided engineering and consultancy services for almost a decade on the flood protection complex.

Concerns about environmental damage to the fragile ecology of the Neva delta had to be taken into account during the dam’s construction. There was also the significant problem of unexploded World War II mines in the area.

The project cost $3.6 billion in total, Interfax reported — approximately as much as the world’s biggest flood defense construction in the Netherlands. London’s dam, built in 1984, cost $2.5 billion, Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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