SIXENSE Innovative Satellite Technology Opens Perspectives for the Completion of the STRUMA MOTORWAY in BulgariaOpinions | April 11, 2019, Thursday // 16:06| views
The Bulgarian government is confident that the Struma Motorway will be completed by 2023, as explained by Nikolay Nankov, Minister of Regional Development. The European Commission have renewed their approval, for the attribution of subsidies of 628 million BGN for the construction of the remaining 40 km of motorway, concerning the sections between Blagoevgrad and Krupnik, and between Kresna and Sandanski.
NOVINITE has therefore had discussions with Renel Dobre, SIXENSE representative for Bulgaria, to establish available technology and SIXENSE expertise. Indeed, SIXENSE offers technologies that are particularly appropriate for the challenges of the Struma Motorway project, especially ATLAS InSAR, the new SIXENSE Innovative Satellite Technology.
Renel Dobre presented this ground-breaking solution in the following terms:
"SIXENSE offers a truly innovative satellite monitoring system, called Atlas InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) technology. It's ideal on large infrastructure works, and is currently applied to various projects all over the world. Its main advantage? To help project owners, designers and all those involved in rail, road or tunnel construction projects (among others), to mitigate risks and identify critical points before launching their project, as well as during a project, to face possible challenges occurring during construction, and even after, as part of its monitoring scheme.
This is particularly crucial when considering a new infrastructure built in a completely new area, that has never been investigated and for which no previous documents or studies exist. Thanks to SIXENSE satellite data acquisition (combining data from two different satellites), critical points can be analysed with a precision of a few centimetres or even millimetres.
This preliminary, prophylactic and preventive engineering solution enables the identification of additional critical points that were impossible to detect in zones that had never been studied: this means actual design can be improved before construction starts. This is also, of course, priceless when it comes to checking urban and very densely-built areas, to establish the influence a construction project will have on a wider scale, on other projects or ecosystems. Moreover, Atlas satellite InSAR plays a longer-term role by assessing a project's influence on the local geography, analysing landslide risks for example."
The biggest challenge: the Kresna Gorge
Former Regional Minister and current Deputy Regional Minister Nikolay Nankov has identified the Kresna Gorge as being the greatest challenge of the whole project: a section of approximately 21 km, that will be created between 2019 and mid-2023. The result of a choice that took over 10 years to make.
Ecology does not go against development and construction, and construction does not exclude ecology, as the regional minister insisted, adding that all European and Bulgarian norms will be respected. The Kresna Gorge section will need the construction of two lanes in the Sofia direction, thus widening the current road, straightening and reinforcing embankments as well as building the necessary ecological infrastructure for amphibians, reptiles and mammals. It involves building the longest tunnel ever built in Bulgaria: the "Zheleznitsa" tunnel.
The financing of the Struma motorway by European funds and the European Investment Bank is based on an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and EC (Ecological Assessment) decision. According to this eco-assessment, the motorway is compatible with Kresna's unique natural landscape, with the choice made of having a long tunnel which to bypass the gorge.
Renel Dobre further comments:
"Atlas satellite InSAR is very simple to use: all it needs for configuration is the surface of interest and the level of accuracy. This has to be decided carefully, as requirements may vary from the initial plan to further along the project. Analyses can therefore take just a few weeks, or take longer when additional and more thorough studies are needed. Risk assessment also involves having ground assessment teams on-site (using sensors, water level calculations, special logistics, etc.); they may even suggest additional satellite measures. The study results in a complete solution to mitigate risks identified.
Basically, nobody wants to have unpleasant surprises before, during or after a project. Which is why Atlas satellite InSAR is part of the investigation process as well as everyday monitoring through the infrastructure's whole life-cycle. The solution helps identify events on the surface, and critical zones that can be subject to landslides. This means it plays a role in cyclic activity identification, thanks to the intervention of specialists such as geologists, who go on-site and carry out additional measurements. The project owner is then aware of events that can occur each time it rains, for example…
If needed, additional SIXENSE solutions exist to reinforce Atlas studies, in particular to study underground characteristics. GEOSCOPE is the perfect solution to do so. Combining data from Geoscope and Atlas, SIXENSE is capable of creating a unique solution adapted to the needs of the client, and enabling the client to take the right decisions."
As announced by Petya Avramova, minister for regional development and public works, at a "Europe in our home" discussion in Blagoevgrad, actual completion of the project is approaching, for the last 40.6 km left, among which 12.6 km of construction and assembly works. On February 11th 2019, the contract was signed with the "Struma Tunnel 2018" consortium for the construction of the "Zheleznitsa" tunnel. There are additional contracts for the sections before and after the tunnel. The most difficult and expensive stretch of the Struma project works is still to come: the Kresna Gorge section. It is about 23.6 km long and is divided in two lots to make sure the project is completed in-time, within the operational programme…
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