Today the Port Authority of Bilbao`s Board of Directors awarded the 79 million-euro works contract to construct the first phase of the Central Pier and to stabilise the old Punto Lucero Quarry. The tender was awarded to the temporary consortium formed by Trabajos y Obras (SATO) – Construcciones Adolfo Sobrino, S.A. – Exbasa Obras y Servicios, S.L. – Excavaciones Viuda de Sáinz S.A. with a total 39-month completion period. The European Commission will contribute 20% of the tendering costs as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Programme. The rest will be provided by the Port Authority’s own funds.
Although carrying out both works has different reasons, and could have been done independently, it is convenient to include them together in just one contract bearing in mind the unquestionable advantages of technical, environmental and financial order. Among such advantages are the works being carried out by one contractor, the optimisation of economic resources, including the European subsidy and the induced conception of significant environmental improvements. In particular, lorry traffic in the nearby towns will be minimised, the transfer of the excess rock material from the stabilisation works to another authorised tip will be avoided, the need for new excavations in the existing quarries in the surrounding areas will be reduced: all these activities will be adapted and coordinated in time in such a way that the surpluses from one work will be compensated, at last partially, by another work needing them.
The Central Pier: a strategic project
The Central Pier Project in the Port of Bilbao Extension is strategic for the Port, which when completed, will allow it to maintain its position as the reference port on the Bay of Biscay, and consequently, the generation of wealth and employment for Euskadi (the Basque Country) as a first order commercial and industrial pole.
At present, the Port of Bilbao’s land occupation rate is almost 80%. The expected increase in traffic in the coming years and the continuous demand for Port land means that if new land spaces are not created, then by 2020 maximum capacity will have been reached. Thus, the building of the new pier will avoid the loss of opportunities and the relocation of companies needing to set up in large ports in order to reduce logistics costs or because their production cannot be transported by road. The Port Authority is planning to dedicate this space specifically for mixed use projects and new traffic.
The new dock has been named the Central Pier – due to its position in the zone sheltered by Zierbena Breakwater and its secondary breakwater- and supposes total exploitation of the same. In the first phase, 334,000 m² of surfaces will be reclaimed from the sea and 1,081metres berthing will be created
with 21-metre depths. The surfaces obtained will amount to more than half of the 600,000 m² of the completed pier.
Stabilisation of the old quarry: a question of safety
This project is the result of the serious risk posed by the instability of the old quarry, which had been used for many years for the successive Port extensions, and the urgency to safeguard both the people and the property at its base. In recent years there have been isolated landslide and rock falling incidents, and bearing especially in mind the nature of the industrial installations located there, which could bring about further dangerous situations, it was decided to urgently undertake a stabilisation plan, besides being requested by the Mining Authorities.
After several studies were carried out, it was concluded that the only technically effective and lasting way to guarantee the old quarry’s stability was by “combing” the area, from the highest to the lowest levels, by small, controlled blasting, combined raise-boring and tunnelling and other auxiliary works, establishing new slopes and ledges which will guarantee against rock falls and minimise the eventual impact on people and property near the mountain side.
So the aim here is to re-comb the affected area to repair and stabilise it, while at the same time, inducing the generation of 1,000,000³ of rock material surpluses. This material must be moved to the tip, if it is to be used – for technical, environmental and economic reasons – for the works on the Central Pier. It must be made clear that on the one hand, that in no way, do these works constitute the exploitation or use of the old quarry, but rather an action to stabilise and repair the zone; on the other, it is a question of works that must be necessarily carried out, independently of Port works. Finally, the generation of the above-mentioned materials derived from the stabilisation operation is more costly than extraction from nearby quarries, which means there is no economic reason or exploitation – purely safety concerns.