The Corinth Canal in Greece cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Built between 1881 and 1893, the Corinth Canal is considered a great technical achievement for its time. Although the canal saves the 700-kilometer journey around the Peloponnese, it is too narrow for modern ocean freighters, as it can only accommodate ships of a width of up to 16.5 meters and a draught of 7.3 meters. Aside from the canal's narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslips from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic anticipated by its operators.
Ships can only pass through the canal one at a time on a one-way system. Larger ships have to be towed by tugs. The canal is nowadays mostly used by tourist ships, with 11,000 ships using the canal every year.
In 1988, two submersible bridge were constructed exist across the Corinth Canal, one at each end, in Isthmia and Corinth. The bridge lowers the bridge deck 8 meters below water level to permit waterborne traffic to use the waterway.
The primary advantage of lowering the bridge instead of lifting it above is that there is no structure above the shipping channel and thus no height limitation on ship traffic. This is particularly important for sailing vessels. Additionally, the lack of an above-deck structure is considered aesthetically pleasing. However, the presence of the submerged bridge structure limits the draft of vessels in the waterway.
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