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They are used to talk with no poetry here,
And always see the roots of the things.
Your hands can often be frost bitten here,
But more frequently your hearts can get warmed.

   BAM traverses the territories of Irkutsk region, The Republic of Buryatiya, Chita region, The Republic of Saha (Yakutiya), Amur region, and The Territory of Khabarovsk. It originates in the East, at the station of Lena, located in an old Siberian town Ust-Kut, going to the west to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Nearly each part of BAM deserves writing poems about. They could be about the severe kilometers of the longest tunnels of Buryatiya, or about the general length of bridges of 100 km in Amur region, or about the trains above the clouds in Chita region at the highest point of BAM at the halt of Mururin.

River   The builders had to get over more than three thousand small and great water bodies on their way, which dictated the necessity to build a great number of underground pipes and bridges. Just see what great rivers they had to conquer - The Lena, the Amur, The Zeya, the Vitim, the Olyokma, the Selemdzha, the Bureya, and many tens of white- water, wayward, having the fame of indomitable other rivers and creeks. Only a few people are aware that the famous Morose River is the Vitim, while the construction of the bridge over it was just a common civil engineering construction fact for the BAM-builders. Even the builders themselves were unaware of the fact that the small, drying-out, looking like a creek the Mogot river could turn into a roaring waterfall with a daily 6 meter water rise. But they heroically rescued the newly constructed bridge over it in 1976.

   The railroad traverses 7 mountain ridges: The Baikal, the North Muya, the Udokan, the Kodar, the Olyokma Stanovik, the Turan, and the Dusse-Alin.

   The complexity of the local terrain made BAM-builders construct more than 30 km of the tracks within the tunnels.

Mountains around Lake Baikal   From all points of view, the greatest interest attract two longest tunnels - 7 km long Baikalsky tunnel, and 15 km long Severomuisky one. The conditions of the construction of these tunnels were extremely unfavorable. There were tectonic breaks with a great inflow of cold ant thermal water, cracking rocks, which were about to bring down at every step, zones of high mountain pressure, fallings and breaks in of pulp and underground rivers. The tunnel builders had to face a problem of water getting into the mine with a real debit of 700 cubic meters per hour, they had subdue the underground rivers, like it happened at the Western portal of Severomuisky tunnel, when the stream of sand and water pulp increased more times than it was predicted in all well-founded forecast in 1979. They also had to foresee and minimize the bringing-down of the bedrock. The construction of the main tunnel required the faster construction of the two smaller parallel tunnels, the so-called reconnaissance transport-draining galleries to study the engineering-geological situation of the mountain masses and to drain extra water from the main face.

   Practically everywhere, with rare exclusion of small "isles", there is permafrost with the depth from 1-3 meters to hundreds of meters on the way. Almost all the way, which the builders had to conquer, was severely swampy. Those are the sorrow famous Mari, which are completely impassable in warm seasons. The transport builders' slang has an exact word combination for them - "absolute impassable roadlessness".

Snow capped mountains   Due to the wide spread of permafrost in the zone of the railroad construction the most of the buildings had to be erected on pile foundations. The pile can be placed into common soil without preliminary drilling, but not in the permafrost. In BAM area every element of the foundation required a special drill hole. The construction of such buildings demanded the creation of the new special drilling equipment.

   Roughly half of all the soil works in BAM zone was connected with the processing of rock and permafrost soils. For friability of the last ones they used the blasting methodology, as there was no other way to do it.

   To add to above mentioned problem slope processes, like fallings, landslides, and screes; freeze factor processes, like avalanches, mud-torrents; and tectonic processes, like seismic force up to 7-9 points Richter scale; it will become clear why BAM-builders would answer ironically the journalists' questions if the mosquitoes bother them while constructing the railroad.

   Some BAM jester (he was likely a bridge builder) said it was very easy to construct a railroad, for that one needs to build bridges and connect them with steel rails. Taking into account unimaginable multitude of rivers, creeks, and streams, over which the bridges were erected, there's likely a big portion of truth in these words.

A train on the bridge   To the great jealousy of the representatives of other jobs the BAM bridge builders made literally revolutions at every their step. Thus, for the first time in the history of the world bridge building a principally new design of the foundations and pier bodies of the bridges was created. It was manufactured pile pier, or pile casing. The methodology, when the bridges were erected without foundation pits for piers of small and medium bridges, spread widely and helped to save a colossal amount of money and building materials. The thing is that the pile types of foundations practically bring to the drilling holes and placing the piles into the soil. Moreover, such foundations are more reliable, as the piles can be submerged and leaned on the solid, not liable to subsidence sedimentary fundamental bedrock.

   One more sample is that for the first time a new thrusting technology design of a bridge was implemented in bridge building, which allowed to reduce greatly the length of the bridge, and reduced the cost of the construction in 1.5 time.

   This happened in the winter of 1979. The metal elements of the lifting crane working at the construction of AF, or artificial facility, that is also another name for the underground water pipe, didn't bear the severe frost. Well, we can get a better description from the poem of BAM-builder poet Gennady Kuzmin:

Rustling in the frozen haze
Over the smoked over marquee,
The January held us with his deathly grip
Of minus fifty every day.

Here, the steel of imported durable tempering
Didn't survive it.
The clerk of works yelled: Damn it!
Such a giant and it fell down!!!

The plan of works doesn't include damages,
And cursing the day of standing idle,
We raised the crane on our shoulders
Though it was not such an easy task.

Mountain river

   Nothing is exaggerated here. The guys from the "Moskovsky Komsomolets" team with the leader Vladimir Stepanishev, the Hero of Socialist Labor, really raised the lifting crane with their hands, repaired it without any extra help, and continued the construction. And it was just the construction of that very water pipe under the railroad.

   Getting over the outwardly harmless streamlets, ravines, collapses, and clefts construction of the sub grade can become a serious problem. That is admission and pipe-bend of natural waters from the sub grade. These waters are especially dangerous during snow melting period, abundant precipitation, or the floods in the nearest rivers. In case there's no water pipe under the railroad sub grade one is in trouble. The sub grade becomes wet all over, hence a subsidence occurs; consequently, the tracks get deformed.

  The way out of such situation is a water pipe. The water pipes are laid on reliable foundations or bolsters, mounted from manufactured elements if Ferro-concrete or segments of steel half-products.

English version of BAM article. Translated by Andrew Bobylo, Foreign Relations Department Far Eastern Technical University

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