A city in the prefecture of Iwate destroyed by the March 2011 tsunami disaster has begun efforts to elevate its ground above sea level. The city Rikuzentakata is moving massive volumes of soil and sand with the use of a giant conveyor belt to raise its urban core and heart of the city.
The central part of Rikuzentakata was submerged by the tsunami that came after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 2011. As the city lies in ruins, the local government plans to raise the area by 11 meters. A nearby hill will be used for its soil, which will then be transported to the low-lying areas with the use of a conveyor belt. The project is estimated to need 7.85 million cubic meters before its completion, as landfill from the shaved hill will make up 80 percent of the required soil.
An opening ceremony of the project was held on Monday, with 150 people participating, residents and city officials alike. They offered a silent prayer for the victims of the 2011 disaster, after which Mayor Futoshi Toba described the conveyor belt as a symbol of hope for reconstruction before he switched it on. The belt is around 17 meters high in certain parts, and was running for around 600 meters on Monday. Pillars support the belt, which reach 42 meters in height at the suspension bridge portion. A public contest held to name the suspension span of the bridge resulted in the name “Bridge of Hope.” With the help of the belt moving 100 cubic meters of soil per minute, it is expected to help shorten the landfill project, which would take up to 10 years by truck, to just 2 years. By July, the government hopes to have the conveyor belt up to 3 kilometers long. The project is estimated to end by 2018.