Amsterdam quays and bridges on the verge of collapse: decades of repairs ahead

by Tanja
Amsterdam quays

Amsterdam will need to spend millions of euros to repair decaying bridges and quays. The next four years at least 27 bridges in Amsterdam will undergo renovations, 800 meters of quays will be renewed and 3800 meters of canal quays will be prepared to be replaced.

Summer 2019 it suddenly became very clear that the bridges and quays of Amsterdam are in a poor state. Cracks appeared in the bricked walls along the water, there was a sinkhole in the Marnixstraat and some Amsterdam quays crumbled into the canals. Weak quays were immediately reinforced with steel sheet pile walls.

Walls of steel to reinforce collapsing Amsterdam canals.

Experts examined the extent of the problems with the canal walls and bridges in Amsterdam. They reported that ten kilometers of Amsterdam quays are on the verge of collapse. Six bridges underwent immediate repairs. They also stated in their report that heavy traffic needs to be diverted.

The Amsterdam city council has drawn up an action plan, that maps the quays and bridges that will undergo investigation. On this list are 850 (of a total of 1800) bridges and 200 kilometers (of a total of 600) of quays. It’s already clear that 750 bridges and 135 kilometers of quay do not comply with current safety requirements. Limitations for heavy traffic will be imposed. 

Action plan Bridges and Quays
The council’s Action Plan to renovate bridges en quays in Amsterdam.

Apart from the enormous costs for the city, the people of Amsterdam and its visitors are looking at years of traffic nuisance, road works, and waterway closures as a result of the works. 

Most of the bridges and quays that were made of brickwork date back to 1850. The streets in Amsterdam were built to handle the weight of horse and carriage, not the heavy traffic they have to endure today.

According to Alderperson Sharon Dijksman, who is responsible for Traffic and Transport in the city, maintaining bridges and quays was not seen as ‘sexy’ for years and therefore much-needed investments were not made. A budget of 200 million euros has been allocated to the first series of repairs, but some say costs could eventually rise up to 2 billion euros.

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