Chapter 262 The bridge across the Redwater River
A week later, Roland officially started the great steel-bridge construction project.
“You mean, I should raise two lands in the middle of the river, which will act as the foothold of the bridge pier?” Lotus looked at the surging river and asked in amazement, “Don’t tell me you plan to construct an actual bridge, rather than a pontoon bridge to connect both sides of the river?”
“Yes,” Roland spread out the scroll he held in his hand, “Taking into account the impact of the river current, it is necessary for the two pieces of land to have a certain volume. They also need to be constructed in this way to reduce the force of the impact.”
“This… looks like a ship,” Lotus let her view wander across the blueprint.
“That’s right, speaking accurately it’s called the spindle type,” he nodded, “As long as they are built parallel to the direction of the flow, the impact it receives from the front will be reduced to the smallest amount possible. The problem is that the Redwater River is nearly ten meters deep, will you still be able to make the earth rise?”
“This shouldn’t be hard to do, Your Highness,” Lotus simply replied, “Just give it to me.”
To be safe, the ship responsible for carrying the witch was Little Town, standing on the massive hull of the cement ship floating in the river was like standing on land. It was still Lightning who took over the position of the helmsman, while Wendy was again responsible for providing the wind.
But during the last week, it seemed that the latter had avoided the Prince’s line of sight, seemingly feeling a bit uncomfortable. Until this day when Roland saw her walking around with her head held up, looking as if she was back to her usual self again. And finally, when she went past him to board the ship, he even heard her whispering a soft “thank you”.
“This is something you can come thank me for,” Nightingale whispered into his ear from within her fog.
The Little Town soon left the pier, driving to the center of the wide river. Carter had already pulled a hemp rope across the river, there were two red cloth belts tied to it which marked the location for the piers. After the cement boat arrived at the site of the first pier, Lotus went to the ship’s railing and began to put her ability to use.
Looking at the river, its surface suddenly resembled boiling water, sending up one bubble after the other, while slowly forming a “hill”. Not long after, gravel together with algae and silt began to rise from within the surging river water, gradually turning all of the water muddy.
So, that’s how it works, Roland thought. Her ability could not only transform a solid surface, but also water. Furthermore, it was even easier to lift than loose gravel was. Even though the surging river was immediately washing it away, but by now the river bed had already been lifted up a little.
Not long after, a gray mass of mud appeared on the water surface. It seemed to be very soft, but it also gave off a very unpleasant odor, making it impossible for all those present to not cover their noses.
However, in Roland’s eyes, this gray mass was the best kind of fertilizer. The soil contained hundreds of years of fish and other aquatic bones, aquatic plants, as well as the inhabitants of the depths’ excrement. If the transport wasn’t too inconvenient, Roland would like to gather all of this soil and use it as fertilizer. Unfortunately, at present, it could only be collected by hand through directly entering the river water.
So, after clearing up the fertilizer layers and improving the section, he finally saw the yellow-brown solid earth he had waiting for. The following steps were to repeat the process again and again until the two pieces of land had been fully formed.
Roland expected that this course of event would at least continue for around one week, but even after the soil was lifted up and broke through the water surface, it didn’t mean that the land could be used. The flow of the river would unceasingly carry away the silt, and without further protection, even if the piers were formed according to the spindle design, they wouldn’t be able to persevere for longer than ten years.
Trying to come to a conclusion, Roland called Karl van Bate to his side, took out a piece of charcoal, and began to paint the steps needed to solidify the ground.
“Is your idea to dig holes into the soil and fill them up with cement?” This newly promoted Minister of Construction asked after analyzing the drawing.
He once more proved why he had once been one of the most exceptional members of King’s City’s Stonemason Guild, Roland thought in satisfaction. With only a few words of what I was able to remember, and he immediately managed to understand my intentions.
“That’s right, but every segment mustn’t exceed five meters in length, while it should be around one meter in depth. When you’re filling it up with cement, call for Lotus to let her bury it one meter into the earth. By repeating this we will be able to form a cement wall which goes straight from the surface of the river and into the river bed.” Roland had come up with this plan after seeing Lotus’ ability in action. Since she could control the surface and make it drop, she could presumably also bury a structure that was above the earth into the ground.
“Your idea is indeed extremely ingenious,” Carl said with sparkling eyes. “This way, even if the river washed away the outer soil, there will still be the cement wall left to block the water.”
Roland nodded, “The crucial point is to control the overall height of the cement blocks. If it is too small, it will lead to the problem where the bottom part will become unstable, while if it’s more than needed, besides the waste of cement it will also delay the construction. So, I am laying responsibility for this take on your shoulders.”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” Karl agreed, “Looking at the silt and soft soil coming up, I am guessing that the final height of the cement wall should be around twelve meters.”
“Also, after you surround all sides with the cement wall, don’t cover the land in the middle with cement, I want to grow several kinds of flowers and grass on top of it afterwards,” the Prince warned repeatedly.
“Several kind of… flowers?” Karl looked confused.
After all, these walls were unable to be made watertight, and when the segments had to be repaired, there would always be gaps left behind. If you wished to consolidate the soil, the simplest method was to plant different kinds of grass and flowers – the vegetation would reduce the water within the ground, while also reducing the soil erosion. That would be especially true after Leaves came and used her magic to lengthen the weeds’ root system, in that way ensuring that the earth would be firmly knit together.
After a simple explanation on how plants could strengthen the soil, Roland turned to look at the workers who were busy on the river banks, “What is the current state of the bridge’s approach construction?”
“We are right in the middle of laying the cement gravel for the road’s surface,” Karl reported without thinking, “They should be completed by this week.”
According to the plan, the approaches on either side of the river would be made by piled up fieldstone and cement, just like they had done with the city walls. As long as the positioning and measurement was correct, the construction itself wouldn’t be that complicated. The highest point of the ramp was seven meters above ground, and it connected with the city streets through a long gentle and curving slope. There was also some further height difference between the river’s dike compared to the water surface. After finishing the construction of the bridge, the difference between the water surface and the bridge should be around twelve meters. Which ought to be high enough for sailing ships to pass through.
So far only the first step of the bridge itself was completed, and it was currently undergoing a strength test on the shore – due to its small span, the load placed on it would be very small. This way the bridge would still be reliable even though Roland was ignorant about bridge engineering. In the absence of the eight wheel trucks from appearing in later centuries, a thirty-centimeter strong I-beam should guarantee the bridge’s stability. Even if the bridge was completely filled with people, it would still be impossible to break the steel beam. Even more so since the process of its construction, from assembling to welding it, had been completely taken care of by Anna, so the probability of a jerry-built construction project was extremely low.
Equally, the installation of the bridge would also be very simple. When the three-span bridge was completed, Hummingbird would use her ability to reduce its weight and would then give it to Lightning so that she could take it to its intended location.
From that point on two wagons in parallel could use the steel bridge to cross the Redwater River at the same, something which truly connected the northern and southern side.
“Even if they were the greatest of mason, it would still be hard for them to imagine such a magnificent bridge,” Karl lamented as he looked at the wide river’s sparkling surface, “Your Royal Highness, does this steel bridge have a name?
After thinking about it, Roland announced, “I presume it should be called ‘Redwater Bridge’.”