While in the past the municipality focused on renewing vulnerable bridges and quay walls on the important routes in the city, stricter choices are now being made, says traffic councilor Melanie van der Horst. In those places, heavy traffic will be excluded rather than reinforced. ‘And we only replace those structures that are actually broken. For structures that are in less bad condition, we investigate whether renovation is an option.’
She further wrote to the municipal council: ‘The changes are mainly due to the increasing insight into the technical condition of our bridges and quay walls. As stated in previous progress reports, we can demonstrate that the majority of bridges will last at least another thirty years, or that functional revaluation or renovation is sufficient for safe use.’
The reason for this more cautious approach is not only the extreme nuisance caused by work on bridges and quays, it is also financial. According to Van der Horst, the pace of work is under pressure due to very high price developments. ‘We can carry out less and less work for the same money.’
Nevertheless, next year we will be working on preparing the renovation of four bridges and seventeen quay projects and the implementation of one bridge and fourteen quay projects. For the record: this means that the recovery is being significantly accelerated compared to recent years. Van der Horst states that ‘steps are being made to tackle the overdue maintenance’.
Red Light District
The restoration task for quay walls is greater, says Van der Horst. In the coming years, the focus will be on four areas: Red Light District, Leidsepleinbuurt, Western Canal Belt and Da Costakade. The work will be planned ‘as efficiently as possible’, taking into account accessibility and quality of life in the neighborhood, according to the councilor.
In the meantime, projects are also being completed piecemeal. Around this time, the final work on the first stretch (straight stretch of waterway) of the Nieuwe Herengracht will be completed. The Bullebak and a leg on the Singel were delivered in August and a leg on the Jacob Catskade was also delivered recently. Work is still underway at ground level.
The delivery of the first part of the quay along the Brouwersgracht is planned in the coming months, as well as the quay wall on the De Ruijterkade and the quay and ground level of the first part of the Herengracht. There will be no parking spaces on this last leg.
Panic phase over
The approach to bridges and quays appears to be slowly but surely coming out of the initial panic phase. A few years ago it became clear that the deplorable state of many bridges and quays was beyond the municipality’s head. When quays collapsed into the canal and bridges had to be closed to traffic at all times, there was talk of billions in costs and dozens of renovation projects that would bring the city to a standstill.
It is also striking that the ‘sinkhole season’, partly caused by the many heavy rain showers in July in combination with weak spots in the quay walls, came early this year. This summer, the municipality received reports of sinkholes in seven places around bridges or quay walls, places where holes appear in the road surface or along the quay walls. The number of sinkholes in August was therefore remarkably high.
Also listen to the podcast Amsterdam world city: