OSAKA -- The work to install new girders to a bridge connecting Kansai International Airport with the main island of Honshu began on Feb. 12, months after the key bridge was severely damaged when a tanker smashed into it during Typhoon Jebi last fall.
The operator of the bridge, West Nippon Expressway Co. (Nexco West), aims to fully restore the bridge's operation by late April, before the "Golden Week" national holiday period.
Starting late on Feb. 12, workers will install a pair of girders -- measuring a total of 187 meters -- to the bridge's outbound lane, which was damaged in the collision last September. The work is scheduled to finish in the predawn hours of Feb. 14.
The company already removed the damaged girders and repaired them and manufactured new portions at factories in Kainan, Wakayama Prefecture, and the city of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, in western Japan. The new girders were transported to the bridge on barges.
From just past noon on Feb. 12, workers started lifting a 790-metric-ton girder using a 100-meter-high crane. The main installation work will take place during the nighttime to avoid any disruption to flights and railway services.
Currently, part of the inbound lane is serving two-way traffic. If pavement and other work go smoothly on the outbound lane, two-lane traffic will commence each on the inbound and outbound lanes by the end of March, before three-lane traffic both ways is fully restored.
(Japanese original by Sayaka Kamohara, Izumisano Resident Bureau)