The construction of the Old Little Belt Bridge

Before the construction of the bridge itself could commence, there were a number of things that had to be done on both sides of the Little Belt – erecting railway embankments, building new train stations and building new roads.

The construction work of the bridge itself therefore started in 1930 and was divided into several stages: The builders first made floating caissons, then cast piers (1932-1934) and built the superstructure (the steel structure was ready in 1934) and then finally completed the road and railway in 1935.

Caissons and piers

The Old Little Belt Bridge rests on 4 piers, the lowermost part of which is called a caisson. The solution involving caissons was developed during the construction of the Old Little Belt Bridge.

100 workers and carpenters were hired to build the caissons. The caissons are reinforced concrete structures that were cast and processed ashore. The casting of the 4 caissons used for the bridge took 25 months.

After the lowermost part of the caissons was ready, they were submerged into the shallow water right next to the shore, which is also where their topmost parts were built. The caissons were then placed in the Little Belt. The piers were then cast on top of the caissons using a floating concrete plant. The ready piers were some 70 metres tall, 40 metres of which are now below water. A steel console was cast at the top of the piers to make it possible to install the superstructure.

Superstructure

B1929

The superstructure was designed and built as a self-supporting structure. A grid structure was built on the piers – with a 30-m working platform. The grid structure was first built on the one side and then on the opposite side to maintain balance. The structures were gradually extended until the grid structures from two piers met in the middle.

All steel parts were sandblasted, primed and painted 4 times until they were taken to the piers and hoisted to the assembly teams.

The Old Little Belt Bridge was built at a time before even welding was used for large structures. All steel therefore had to be riveted together, with more than 2 millions rivets used for the whole bridge. Not less than three men were necessary for placing each rivet: one to hold the rivet, another to hold the support and a third one who was in charge of riveting itself using a pneumatic drill.

New railways, railway stations and roads

The placement of the bridge called for an extension of the existing railway lines. This became a complicated business in Fredericia where it was decided that the Fredericia Train Station would be moved outside the ramparts from its then position at the port. The railway was therefore extended by 12 km, and a new train station covering not less than 70 ha was built.

Work in Middelfart was of a more limited scope. The railway here was extended by 4.3 km, and the train station was placed in the middle of the new section.

Since it was decided that the bridge should also provide a road link, this required the construction of new roads on both shores.

Costs

The construction of the bridge and the railway connections amounted to DKK 42 million.

Costs were distributed, as follows:

  • The railway bridge cost DKK 16.7 million.
  • The road bridge cost DKK 7.5 million.
  • The new roads cost DKK 1.6 million.
  • The new railway station facilities cost DKK 16.5 million, of which the work on the Fredericia railway station amounted to DKK 11 million.