Ayesa’s dilemma with the SE-40 and with the new London tunnel

The Sevillian engineering company Ayesa clearly and publicly opted at the end of 2020 for a bridge for the crossing of the SE-40 over the Guadalquivir river on the way to the Aljarafe, while it is participating in London in the construction of the tunnel between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Silvertown district under the River Thames.

In Seville it is feared that a bridge will be chosen in the new report commissioned from Ayesa

Ayesa is involved in this great work in London together with Ferrovial, Kier, SK and other engineering firms (Cowi and Arup), of 1.4 kilometers, with an investment of about 1,400 million euros. The tunnel will be executed with a TBM –as the SE-40 river crossing began-, it should be ready in 2025 and it will be exploited with a highway concession (2025-2050).

The construction of a road tunnel in a mighty river like the Thames (it has also been done in other rivers) demonstrates, as civil engineers have always reiterated, that there is no work impossible to execute when the investment and the projects are adequate. And that the construction problems that arise can be solved with a modification of the project without the need to cancel the contract, contrary to what the Ministry has done in Seville, as the dean of the College of Civil Engineers of Andalusia warned at the time, Luis Moral Ordóñez.

In the case of London, the investment amounts to 1,400 million, a figure similar to the range of 1,000 to 1,400 million in which the ministry valued in 2019 the cost of the tunnels of the SE-40 with the modified ones necessary to adapt them to current regulations and the latest flood calculations.

Ayesa’s commitment in its day to a bridge for the SE-40 is remarkable for two reasons: because defends in Seville the opposite of what it does in London in a river that is not negligible in flow like the Thames, and because precisely Ayesa (together with Fhecor) is the company that the Ministry of Transport has commissioned the decisive report on how the passage of the SE-40 through the Guadalquivir River should be made (if with a longer bridge or with tunnels longer) following the cancellation of the initial tunnel contract that was signed in 2009.

Thus, what is finally done in Seville in this long overdue project will depend on the commitment of the Seville engineering company to a longer tunnel or a longer bridge. Paradoxically Ayesa was also the company that designed the project of the original tunnels of the SE-40 that began to be built until “alleged” problems of water seepage and drilling arose at the 40 meter depth that was projected, which is why the Ministry has canceled the contract and commissioned a new report from Ayesa on the best engineering solution to cross the river.

In Seville there is a general fear that this request from the Ministry of a new report on alternatives for the river crossing of the SE-40 is to change the tunnels for a longer bridge. And there is no shortage of reasons to fear it: especially economic because the bridge is cheaper.

The successful bidders Ayesa and Fhecor have two years to make this report, but after the first 10 months (in the spring of 2022, taking into account that it was awarded in May 2021) they must have the alternatives and the environmental impact study drawn up. They have a budget of almost one million euros, exactly 0.98 million euros.



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