St. Petersburg harbor, which has a flood barrier complex to protect the harbor and city from flooding along the seashore, harbor, river, and canals. The centerpiece of the flood barrier is this rotating, submersible gate which can close in case of extremely high water levels, but for most of the year remains open to allow shipping access to Russia's only harbor on the Baltic Sea. The rotating barriers are kept dry to prevent them from freezing into place and to reduce the amount of maintenance while they are idle.
The complex is intended to protect Saint Petersburg from storm surges by separating the Neva Bay from the rest of the Gulf of Finland. Historically, the storm surges from the gulf had caused over 300 floods in the city, several of which had a massive devastating effect. The dam has the capability to protect the city from water rising up to 5 m (16 ft). Its first use to hold back the incoming Baltic water into Neva Bay took place on 28 November 2011 and had resulted in a decrease of water rise to 1.3 msl, which is below flood level equal to 1.6 msl, which prevented the 309th flood in the history of the city and saved some 1.3 billion rubles of possible damages.
The construction of the flood prevention complex started in 1978 and became one of the longest construction projects in Russia. After a protracted halt in the 1990s and early 2000s, construction resumed in 2005 due to the intervention of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, a native of Saint Petersburg. Putin finally inaugurated the finished complex in 2011, when all the facilities at the southern part of the dam were completed, along with the 1.2 km (0.75 mi) long underwater roadway tunnel below the main southern lock, the longest undersea tunnel in Russia.
- ©2013 George Steinmetz
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