The Story Behind the Stamp: Balian 1648-1649, 17 Dec. 2002, Aswan Bridge

On Tuesday December 17 2002, President Hosni Mubarak opened Egypt's first suspension bridge across the Nile. The structure near Aswan is the 44th bridge across the river that is Egypt's lifeblood. It opened a little later then planned as finds of ancient relics in the area of the river delayed its construction by two years. It is a prestressed concrete cable-stayed bridge with a semi-fan arrangement engineered to look like a sun boat. It will appear to travellers approaching Aswan as a Pharaonic boat floating on the Nile. A single plane of cables supports the concrete main span, which was built integrally with centrally placed cable towers. The bridge, which extends for 4.5km (2.8 miles), is under the ownership of the General Authority for Roads, Bridges & Transport, which will help establish a new nine kilometre-long Corniche in Aswan that is adjacent to the bridge.

The General Nile Company of Cairo, won the $18-million design-build contract in 1996 and had the detailed design responsibility. The design was by Arab Consulting Engineers. The General Nile Co hired the Paris-based Freyssinet International to engineer the prestressed box girder deck, pylons and stay system and other parts of the superstructure were carried out by EEG Simecsol. The total cost of ŁE 180 million forms part of ŁE 250 million being spent on the construction of three overhead bridges, in Aswan, Sohag and Kafr El Zayat. Its technical details are:

Main span 250 m Total length 977 m
Span lengths of main bridge 49 m - 250 m - 76 m
Clearance 13 m Deck depth 3.30 m
Deck width 24.5 m Number of lanes 2 x 2
Deck slab thickness 220 mm Thickness of bottom flange 200 mm

The location of the bridge took some time to arrange: originally it was intended to be in the middle of the city, but it was decided by the General Authority for Roads and Bridges to relocate the project 11km north of Aswan. President Mubarak finally chose the site 9 kilometres north of Aswan, where the bridge will serve a community extending 12km north and linking the present city of Aswan with New Aswan city that has been built on 1800 feddans of land west of the Nile to accommodate 100,000 people by 2007. The bridge is one of the giant projects executed in order to serve tourism and development in southern Upper Egypt.

The Governor of Aswan says that great efforts are to be made to maintain the environment of the city and prevent the building of slum housing round the bridge. The Prime Minister had earlier made a decision that no construction of any kind would be set up in the 3,000 meters surrounding the bridge's western and eastern sides, in order to maintain the panoramic view of the bridge.

It is hoped that the bridge will end the traffic congestion in Aswan and help the smooth flow of movement, since it links the eastern parts of Aswan with the newly-planned suburb of New Aswan. The bridge interlinks Toshka, Sharq al-Oweinat, Aswan and the Red Sea along the new Aswan-Berenice highway. Not only relieving traffic from across the Aswan Dam, the bridge has provided another crucial link between the west and east banks of the river. Previously, the nearest bridge was at Edfu, some 130km to the north. The bridge will be used to carry agricultural products from Toshka and east Oweinat in addition to the export of marble, granite and mineral products to the port of Berenice on the Red Sea. It is also an effective link between the Aswan-Cairo road and the road from Aswan to Aswan International Airport (AIA) and the Aswan-Abu Simbel road.

Initial surveys indicate that the new bridge will serve 5,000-10,000 vehicles daily, particularly trucks and lorries which will be prevented from driving inside the city. Moreover, tour buses will use the bridge to the airport and the touristic sites in the southern parts of Aswan.

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