The Green Connection in Rotterdam

My pictures of a new bridge in Rotterdam got a lot of your interest last weekend*. Not surprising, because the Green Connection (De Groene Verbinding) in Rotterdam indeed is a spectacular new bridge for cycling and walking. It was festively opened on Wednesday 11th June last, by Rotterdam’s alderman Joost Eerdmans and the architect. The bridge connects Rotterdam to a (to be developed) nature reserve and recreational area south of the city, that measures 600 hectares (1,482.6 acres).

Many people were clearly using the bridge for the first time and stopped to admire the bridge and the view.

The bridge is 190 metres (623Ft) long and crosses the freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany and the motorway A15 at a height of 9 metres (29.5Ft). The white steel against the blue sky in the exceptional shape and the bright yellow surface make this bridge something really special.

This rendering shows the main span of the bridge from the south, with Rotterdam in the distance.

The design of the bridge is by Marc Verheijen, an architect of the city of Rotterdam. It cost over 9.2 million Euro. The span had to be very large at this location, where the motorway is extra wide because of a resting area with a fuel station. The motorway will also be widened next year and that has already been taken into account.

The bridge was constructed in a factory in Vlissingen in two parts. (Still from the production video by the Province of South-Holland.)

The footway and the cycleway are 6.5 metres (21Ft) wide in total. The outside of the bridge is wider, because of the way the bridge is constructed: a mesh of steel tubes that cross each other diagonally, forming an oval shape. The design resembles the famous elevated tram track in The Hague, nicknamed ‘the fish net stocking’. Here the oval shape changes: it is horizontal at either end of the bridge and vertical in the middle. This gives the bridge a very interesting design. At the Rotterdam side there is an extra staircase for pedestrians to provide a short cut to an area with big box shops.

The Hague
The elevated light rail/tram track in The Hague has a similar design. Still from my video of The Hague.


Bridge Stats

655 metric tons of steel
32 bridge decks
480 tubes
960 welded connections
608 panels of expanded metal
625 metres of handrail (2050.5Ft)
190 metres long (623Ft)
9 metres high (29.5Ft)
6.5 metres wide (23Ft)

It took about 30 months to build the bridge. But most of the activities took place in a factory in Vlissingen, 130 kilometres (81m) from the bridge’s final location. In the Spring of 2012 the first activities at the bridge’s location started. When the ground works were finished the bridge could be transported to its destination. The two parts of the bridge were transported by ship to Rotterdam.

The bridge parts were transported by ship to the port of Rotterdam and from there transported via the A15 motorway the bridge now crosses.

The bridge arrived on 22nd of August 2013 in the port of Rotterdam. From there it was transported 2 kilometres (1.2m) on a truck via the A15 motorway it now crosses. The following night the first bridge part was put in its location and again one night later the final part was put it its place. These nights drew a large crowd and there were festivities in the presence of a lot of officials. The motorway had to be closed for these three nights.

The province of South-Holland published a video showing how the bridge was transported.

Finishing the bridge took until June this year and the bridge is now in use.

On this map from the routeplanner by the Cyclists’ Union I marked the new bridge and its entrance ramps (in yellow) over the A15 motorway and the already existing 5 other nearby possibilities to safely cross that road by bicycle (in red).

The nature reserve that will be created south of Rotterdam between Rhoon and Barendrecht meets some protest. Farmers in the area leading a protest group collected 35,000 signatures against it. The nature reserve must be constructed under a legal obligation to compensate loss of nature because Rotterdam expanded its port. The redevelopment has already started and is supposed to be finished in 2021. But because of the opposition the national government and the province of South-Holland who are in charge of this project now consider alternative plans that were presented by the former Dutch minister for Agriculture and Nature, early June 2014. The plans for 200 hectares (494 acres) of wetlands may be altered. Whatever the outcome of this reconsideration, there will be a nature reserve and it can already very easily be reached on foot and by bicycle because of this new bridge.

My video portrait of the new bridge at Rotterdam “De Groene Verbinding” (The Green connection).


A ride on the new bridge from the south-west entrance to the north.
(All the sandy bits will be covered in grass again very soon.)

* The tweet about this bridge got a lot of attention. So far there were 186 retweets and 81 favourites (and that is excluding the rephrased tweets like this one with 126 retweets). It’s the exceptional that draws most attention. But that’s not so bad because you also need such bridges to get rid of the barriers between the ubiquitous mundane cycle ways.




8 thoughts on “The Green Connection in Rotterdam

  1. Cycled over it for the first time this Sunday just gone (9th July 2017). Loved it!
    I spent a good hour just sitting on the seat at the southern end just admiring it!
    I’ll be back again soon 🙂
    Phil from UK

  2. В России любой надземный переход сделали бы со ступеньками, глухими стенами и крышей, чтобы зимой и летом там было невозможно находиться.

  3. What strikes me about this post is not only the beauty of the bridge–the pastel colors makes the photos look like an artist rendering–but also how this and several of the other bicycle bridges you have mentioned were constructed off-site.

    This and the prefabricated curbs and paving blocks for sidewalks are making me wonder if the Dutch have much more advanced construction methods for roads and bridges than the U.S. does. Standardized sizes for curbs, bricks and paving stones for roads and sidewalks enables the construction to be much more automated by custom machinery than the traditional method of creating handmade wooden forms on-site for sidewalks and curbs for every project in U.S. cities. The initial costs would be higher, but the speed and reduced manpower needed would more than make up for it for larger cities.

    There is also the reduced maintenance costs for having paving blocks for sidewalks that can be easily replaced. This would make putting the utilities under the sidewalks, rather than the streets, much easier to maintain. Tree roots pushing up the sidewalks could also be dealt with much more quickly and at less cost over the long run.

    Convincing cities in the U.S. to design their streets/sidewalks this way is a tough sell since the initial costs for the machines would be high. There is also the problem of cities trying to only buy equipment from U.S. companies in order to get federal funding.

    The unwillingness of U.S. cities to buy transit buses that are not assembled in the U.S. has created a situation of buying buses that are lacking when compared to European models.

    On page 20 of this pdf is the bus that Los Angeles uses for its Orange Line bus rapid transit system:

    Click to access 2006_brt_compendium.pdf

    I assumed that this design shows the limits of the amount of passengers that can be carried on a 60-foot bus and that the quality of ride and maneuverability of it were inherent in all buses of this size. This bus line is nearing its maximum capacity with the limit of 92 passengers per trip and a inability to use longer buses by law or to increase how often the bus arrives.

    The Phileas 60–which is made in the Netherlands, shown on page 60, has a capacity of 50% more passengers per bus and it weighs 12,000 pounds less than the bus used on the Orange Line. The lighter weight enables it to carry much more passengers without exceeding the law governing weight limits per axle.

    Transit train cars used in the U.S. are frequently designed overseas, but buses are not. Because of this lack of willingness to buy superior bus designs from countries outside of North America, the buses used on routes with high numbers of passenger boarding’s are not able to handle the number of people wanting to use it and the ride tends to be like a truck on a unpaved road.

  4. “ubiquitous mundane cycle ways”…give me mundane (i.e. flat, dull, straight) cycle ways any day over the bumpy, cracked, windy and poorly-lit shared-path currently strewn with gum-tree branches, leaf litter and mud that is my commute. At least there is something in common with the Green Connection, and that is the horse manure carelessly left on the cycle path. Maybe some of the South Australian mounted police are on holidays in the Netherlands!

    Interesting and nice colour scheme for the bridge path – it does make the photos look like artist impressions. And of course a completely separate piece of the path for people on foot.

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