Tourists may find the inner city of Amsterdam in a state of total chaos, due to the massive public works that have been taking place there for some years. All the work is necessary however to complete one huge project: the construction of a new metro line (underground, subway): the Noord Zuid Lijn.
Tunnelling underneath historical centre of Amsterdam
Since 1997 the Amsterdam council has been drilling a tunnel underneath the historic city centre. The metro will run from across the water IJ in Amsterdam North to Central Station, all the way down to Station South.
Metro has 3 stops in the city centre
At the moment there are only 4 metrolines in Amsterdam: 50, 51, 53 and 54. Lines 51, 53 and 54 all stop at the same 3 metrostations in the centre of the city (Central Station, Waterloo square and Weesper square). Line 50 is the most recent and takes on the same route as the A10 ring around Amsterdam.
Wooden foundation piles
The drilling is precarious because the Amsterdam soil is very soft and wet. Houses in Amsterdam have to be built on foundation piles that are driven deep into the ground, to give them a solid base and a more stable position. Nowadays they use concrete piles for this, but many of the older houses still rest on wooden piles, of which the quality deteriorates because of its old age. The drilling of the tunnel causes problems for these old wooden piles.
Another problem is the wetness of the soil. Everywhere you drill a hole in Amsterdam, it fills up with water immediately, so a system of pumps is needed, together with water-tight dams, to keep out the ground water. Since the start of the drilling, the leaking of the tunnels has caused many problems. Also, the ground water level has to be stable, because when the level falls, the wooden piles of old foundations might also fall dry and crumble. In 2008, buildings on Vijzelgracht (along the construction site) subsided. Some historic 17th-century houses became uninhabitable.
Artists cover up site
From March 2009 to September 2011 artists use the construction fences around Central Station to display their artistic designs. The concept behind the temporary exhibition Edits is that the works of art represent one of 8 Amsterdam museums.
Controversial metro line
The construction of the new metro has been controversial from the outset. The majority of Amsterdam people voted against the new metro line in a referendum, but this was ignored by Amsterdam politicians. In 2009 a committee concluded after a inquiry that technical, organisational and financial risks were largely ignored during the political process leading up to the decision to drill the tunnel. Politicians wanted the tunnel, and so the tunnel was built.
Ready in 2017
Probably the metro will be ready in 2017. It was supposed to be open this year. Total costs: 3 billion Euro. In 2002 costs were calculated of 1.4 billion.
Landmark tunnelling underneath Central Station
This week all problems were forgotten for a moment, when a remarkable landmark was celebrated. Workers floated an immense concrete tunnel in the IJ water into a trench, dug 17 meters deep underneath the 19th- century building of Central Station.