Work began to install new girders on the access bridge to Kansai International Airport on Feb. 12. The bridge was severely damaged by Typhoon No. 21 in September. (Kazuhiro Ichikawa)

More than five months after a drifting tanker damaged the bridge to Kansai International Airport in Osaka, work began on Feb. 12 to install two new traffic girders on the structure.

West Nippon Expressway Co. (NEXCO-West) plans to complete the installation by the early morning of Feb. 14 and get the bridge fully reopened to traffic by the start of the Golden Week holidays in late April.

The old girders were severely damaged and removed after being hit by a tanker set adrift by powerful winds from Typhoon No. 21 on Sept. 4. The damage temporarily cut off a main access route to the airport, which is built on an offshore man-made island.

Work started in the morning of Feb. 12 with a barge transporting one of the girders, measuring 89.8 meters in length and weighing 790 tons, to be installed on the portion of the bridge closest to the airport island. The barge moved to the south side of the bridge and rested at anchor about 50 meters away.

In the early afternoon, the girder was hoisted by a large floating crane to a height of about 15 meters. As the bridge also covers the railway track, workers waited until after the last train of the day to complete the installation.

The other girder, measuring 97.8 meters in length and 858 tons in weight, is scheduled to be installed in the wee hours of Feb. 14.

The access bridge has three lanes each way. Since the typhoon, however, only three inbound lanes have been in use, with traffic moving in both directions in these lanes.

NEXCO-West plans to finish repaving the road and reopen the bridge with two lanes inbound and outbound by the end of March.

The resumption of three lanes of traffic both ways is expected before the start of Golden Week.