The St. Pauli Elbtunnel

The St. Pauli Elbtunnel is a protected landmark which is a beautiful and frequently used short cut from Landungsbrücken to the port area and Steinwerder. To preserve Hamburg's one-hundered-year-old landmark on a long-term basis there are extensive repairs needed - a challenge in structural engineering for the HPA.

The steel sheath needs to be completely sealed and the whole core of the bore needs to be removed due to maintenance. During the past years we already made a lot of progress. Amongst other steps we almost entirely replaced about 200,000 rivets and screwed connections that showed water infiltration. Due to the building's age and complexity some delays occured. For example we had to place additional ballast rocks on top of the tunnel to prevent a buoyancy of the tube during construction phase. At the same time increased amounts of lead caused a temporary suspension of building work.

To many inhabitants of Hamburg the St. Pauli Elbtunnel is a lot more than just a daily traffic route. The building is a tourist attraction, a scene for photo shoots and shootings as well as a popular location for exhibitions and events. We acknowledge its special meaning for the city and its inhabitants - therefore we plan and supervise the redevelopment with care. 

smartPORT TV keeps you updated: The eastern tube is almost finished

The St. Pauli Elbtunnel is a landmark in Hamburg. The HPA is currently working on the extensive redevelopment and repair of the more than 100 year-old eastern tube of the old Elbtunnel. The measures are on the home straight which is why a few selected journalists were allowed to visit the tunnel for the first time. But there's still a lot of work to do. The redevelopment will finally be finished until the end of 2018. It will be opened for pedestrians and vehicles in the first six months of the year 2019.

The St. Pauli Elbtunnel - a historic construction

In accordance with the port's growth on the southern side of the River Elbe since the mid 1870s, the amount of workers who had to daily pass the river twice increased. The small ferries weren't able to cope with the mass of people. In addition the ferry service was too dependant on the weather. 

Building a tunnel was the only pracitcal solution - but it was not until 1901 that the senate agreed on tackling this major project. In July 1907, the ground-breaking ceremony was held by the project leader Otto von Stockhausen. In total the construction cost 10.7 million German gold mark and kept 4,400 workers occupied. In September 1911 the tunnel was officially opened. 

Interior diameter of the shaft: 22 m
Height of lift: 23.50 m
Height of shaft floor to the engine room ceiling: 41.20 m
Biggest distance between lane and mean high water level: approx. 21 m
Tunnel length: 426.5 m
Lane width: 1.82 m (since 1928: 1.92 m)
Exterior diameter of the iron tunnels: 5.92 m

200 tons of lead              ​

5,000 tons of iron         ​

600,000 rivets ​

6 lifts per shaft

2x 10 tons of lifting capacity (vehicles)         ​

2x 6 tons of lifting capacity (vehicles)             ​

2x 2.4 tons of lifting capacity (persons)

Ground-breaking ceremony on 22 July 1907

Cost: 10 million Gold Marks

Grand opening on 7 September 1911

Open to vehicles on from 30 November 1911

Architect: Otto Wöhlecke

Architect office: Raabe & Wöhlecke from Altona

Labourers: 4,400

We keep going:

The project renewal of the St. Pauli Elbtunnel is a matter close to our heart to ensure that this special construction will be preserved for the posterity. 

After finishing the redevelopment of the upper tunnel area, it's currently about building in the prefabrictated sidewalk parts as well as completing the tiling and plaster works. Afterwards the production of the road surface can be started. Finally the technical equipment will be in the focus. At the same time the installation of the supply lines of third parties takes place in the eastern tube as well as in the shaft buildings. 

The total project costs still amount to 59.7 m. EUR. You can assume that the project will be finished within this project budget. 

The completion is planned for the end of 2018 and the opening of the road will take place in the first six months of 2019.

Construction progress

Despite of the challenges in structural engineering that this more than 100 year-old monument and landmark comes with, we ensure that there's a constant progress in the fundamental renovation. Not even a water ingress of approx. 5 m³/h on August 27 2016 could stop it. 

The redevelopment of the upper tunnel is already finished. Before the retiling inspired by the historic example could begin, the core of the upper tunnel area had to be removed. In addition the rivets and lead joints of the tubing hab to be repaired. In this context, the concrete structure also had to be replaced. 

The following work was recently mastered:

Demolition of the road:

• During test openings we found unexpectatly many steel bars used for ballast which was contrary to inventory documents

• The road was heavily polluted with PAK (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

• The polluted material was removed and laborious disposed

• Special health and safety protection was required

Redevelopment of the tubing:

• The tubing construction is in good condition

• Special health and safety protection was required

• Same procedure as with the upper tunnel area

• significantly improved expenditure compared to the upper tunnel area (e.g. four times the amount of rivet connections)

New construction of the road

• Work started in February 2017

• Concrete is build in several layers 

• Use of heavy concrete with a gross density of 3,600 kg/m³ instead of steel bars

• 8 - 9 tons per tunnel meter are necessary to reach needed dead load against buoyancy

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