Rotterdam will remove a restored 19th-century bridge in 2017 to accommodate a sailing yacht purchased in the Netherlands by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The decision has sparked controversy, as the city council promised not to touch this national monument after it was repaired five years ago.
The president of the Historical Society of Rotterdam, Ton Wesselink, has confirmed to EFE that the city council has already authorized the tasks to dismantle this bridge and, although “the risk of damage to the structure can be reduced almost to zero because the tasks will be carried out by professional people , the risk will always be there”, he acknowledged, and this is a historical monument.
“There will always be a risk of harm”
The bridge, built in 1878, was badly damaged during the bombing in the 1940s, in World War II, and was one of the first structures in the city to be restored after the war, but when in 1993 rail traffic stopped passing through this bridge, the city ruled out a plan to demolish it due to the strong resistance of the residents of Rotterdam.
“We don’t have many historic buildings in Rotterdam. Many monuments were lost during the war, and we like this bridge very much. It has been restored a few years ago and it was promised not to touch it, so it is not understood that now, as if nothing happened and because a ship wants to pass through, we have to dismantle it. There will always be a risk that it will suffer damage”, Tom Wesselink has denounced.
Bezos, considered the richest man in the world, commissioned a Dutch company to build a giant yacht that will have three masts, so it will not be able to pass under the bridge, which led the company to ask the municipality to dismantle the structure. central and the costs will be borne by Bezos himself.
The largest sailing yacht in the world
Marcel Walravens, municipal manager of matters related to De Hef, has told the local newspaper “Rijnmond” that the shipbuilder’s request was granted because “it mainly refers to the passage of a ship with tall masts” and recalled that in other bridges ” you can press a button and they open, but that is not possible with De Hef because it has a maximum height”.
According to him, it is not “practical” to only partially finish the ship in the area where it is being built in the municipality of Alblasserdam, in the west of the Netherlands, to move it through De Hef and then finish building it elsewhere. . The estimated value of the ship is 430 million euros and, with some 127 meters long, it will be the largest sailing yacht in the world.
Walravens stressed that the economic interest of the region was considered to accept the request, since “from a financial and job maintenance perspective, this project is very important.” He also recalled that “Rotterdam has been declared the maritime capital of Europe, and shipbuilding and activity within the sector are an important pillar”.
The plan is to restore the central part of the bridge after the yacht passes and qualified the municipality’s promise not to dismantle the structure again after a large-scale restoration in 2017: “Never say never, I see it as using the resources that you have in the most efficient way possible.” It is not clear when these tasks will be carried out, nor how the bridge will be dismantled, but “the preparation will take about a week, there are many cables in De Hef and as soon as you remove the first one, nothing works anymore.” Wesselink believes the project will be done sometime this summer.
The hope is to remove the central part of the bridge in a matter of days “and with a bit of luck” put everything back in place “within a week,” the city council said. “Hopefully Bezos will pay the municipality enough money that we can invest it in maintaining our national heritage. These things cannot be done just like that”, Wesselink lamented.