Designed by Burohappold Engineering, the system allows the middle part of the bridge to be moved using a combination of pontoon, tugboat and the tides of the River Elbe.

At the start of the operation, the pontoon was positioned underneath the central section at low tide. As the tide rose, the pontoon took the weight of that part of the bridge, raising it above the rest of the structure. The tug then manoeuvred the pontoon a short distance to a position that allowed river traffic to pass. The procedure was reversed to restore the road link.