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November 2003 - Nr. 11


The Editor
Von Muskelprotz...
Vienna Connection
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"Kreidekreis" Review
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Dear Mom
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Junge Führungskräfte
German Pioneers Day
Culture in Concerts
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44 Language School Awards
Early Mardi Gras
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Barbara Hall's Campaign
Dick reports...
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Ham Se det jehört?
2003 Radweltmeisterschaften
Music-Land Germany
German Christmas Markets
German Arts Now
Luther's Home Searched
Grimm's Dictionary
Berlin's Worth
Economy to get stronger
Financial Advice
Newton Donates Works
No Growth w/o Reforms
Read Out Loud
New Waterway
VW Designer

New waterway connects east and west

  TWIG - The completion of the largest waterway in Europe made an old dream come true for freight shippers in Germany last Friday (October 10) — clear passage between the North Sea ports and Berlin.

Six years after construction of the half-a-billion-dollar project began, the 918 meter canal bridge — built from an estimated 68,000 cubic meters of concrete and 24,000 tons of steel - has assumed its colossal final form. The state-of-the-art structure has been designed to withstand even earthquakes.

The heart of the waterway is a steel and concrete lock system almost a kilometer long that spans the Elbe north of Magdeburg, connecting the Midland Canal with the Elbe-Haval Canal.

Before the canal’s creation, ships wasted precious time transferring between the two canals at the intersection. Ships were often forced to unload freight in Magdeburg before being able to navigate the waters between canals. Current conditions make it possible to carry up to 1350 tons of freight unhindered between ports, allowing the new system to divorce navigation of the waterway from the fluctuating water levels of the Elbe.

The construction is a milestone for the shipping industry in Germany and Europe, says Achim Pohlman, president of the German Water and Shipping Authority. The first such waterway was planned as early as 1919 and was meant to connect either the Rhine or the Oder with the North Sea. First World War II, then the partition of Germany thereafter put plans off indefinitely.

The waterway is one of several ongoing undertakings by the Ministry for Transportation as part of "Transportation Project German Unity Number 17," which is slated to allocate close to 2.3bn Eur ( $2.7 billion) over the next 12 years to similar projects. Despite an almost constant scarcity of funds, the next expansive undertaking will connect the ports of Hanover and Berlin.

Experts predict that the new construction will mean the difference between four million total tons of freight in 2002 and seven million in 2015. "Neither trucks nor train can provide as resourceful, inexpensive, safe, and quiet transport as shipping," said Manfred Stolpe, Federal Minister for Transport, Building and Housing and Reconstruction.

But the meaning of these projects is more than just a plus for the shipping industry. The waterway builds a tie between Germany’s eastern and western halves, countries whose intertwining infrastructures were sliced for four decades before German re-unification in 1990, ties that — like economic ties — are slowly being rebuilt.


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