First section of controversial light rail overpass went up early Thursday morning.
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS, GIL STERN STERN ZOHAR
The first section of a major new bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, part of the city's long-planned light rail system, was erected in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
Construction on the Bridge of Strings is expected to take another seven months.
The NIS 135 million bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, will be built on concrete supports covered in Jerusalem stone, above which will hang a steel and glass structure.
Calatrava's slender curved span will soar above the perpetual traffic jam at the intersection of Jaffa Road and Shazar and Herzl boulevards, rising from near the future train station - which is slated to begin carrying passengers to Modi'in, Ben-Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv in 2009.
While a conventional overpass would cost between NIS 60-80 million, in contrast to the NIS 220 million for Calatrava's modernist masterpiece, a more plebian bridge would entail some eight support piers that would result in a concrete warren worthy of the Clal Center.
Instead, Calatrava's elegant solution will float on two bases now under construction at the project's east and west ends.
The bridge's anchor bases will comprise 70 holes drilled to a depth of 25 meters, each with a radius of between 60 and 90 cm.
Beginning in December, construction began on a series of temporary pillars to support the bridge platform. Those 24 metal sheets, manufactured in Padua, Italy, will be transported at night from the Haifa port. Each section weighs 40 tons.
In January 2007, the mastiff, also being made in Italy, arrived in three sections of approximately 40 meters each.
With the 118-meter high pylon in place, work then began on laying the 68 cables that support the unique suspension bridge. Averaging four to six 'strings' per night, officials anticipated that this phase will be finished by the summer.
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