Diversity: The Esperanto construction site
PORR’s projects are varied and unique, and so are the people who implement them. One such project is the TS-26 tunnel, which is part of the 480km S3 motorway that will connect the north-western Baltic Sea coast of Poland with the Czech Republic in the south. Poland’s longest non-urban tunnel is also PORR’s largest infrastructure contract in this home market. The concreting work for the last tunnel tube of the TS-26 was completed three months ahead of schedule. As one of the most important construction sections – along with the 320m TS-32 tunnel – TS-26 is probably also the most international: the PORRians working here speak twelve different languages.
“When I look back on our international collaboration, it brings back a number of memories. For example, I was in the tunnel one day and heard my colleagues speaking Polish. To my surprise, I realised that I could understand them. When I answered them in English, our shift leader asked me whether I spoke Polish. I only knew a couple of words, but I could see what was happening in the tunnel,” says site supervisor Thomas Excel. The team also developed their own language out of a mix of Austrian German, Polish, and English. This made it easier for all participants from twelve different countries to communicate with each other. Or as our project manager Norbert Hörlein described it: we invented the Esperanto construction site.
It wasn’t just the volume of the order that was exceptional, but also – and more importantly – its unprecedented scope. We were working on two major construction sites: the 16km section of the S3 motorway with its bridges and also the two tunnels TS-32 and TS-26,” comments Region West Director Piotr Sarnowski, describing the construction scheme. The contract stipulated that the work had to be carried out seven days a week, 24 hours a day, over a period of 30 months. Public holidays were the only exception. The rapid pace called for total commitment. “Completing the tunnel ahead of schedule – without any serious accidents, in compliance with all the requirements of Polish mining law, the strict health and safety regulations, and under the constant supervision of the state labour inspectorate and the mining authority – didn’t seem likely at first,” says Sarnowski. “Thanks to the commitment of the entire team, however, we overcame every obstacle and successfully reached the third project milestone.”