Over the Meuse, a brand new cycle bridge

The ‘Maasover’ bridge for cycling and walking takes people over the river Maas (Meuse). A straightforward and simple name for a beautiful bridge that looks very stylish, partly also because of its simplicity. The bridge connects the towns of Cuijk and Mook in the provinces of North-Brabant and Limburg respectively. It was festively opened on Saturday 26 September 2020. I filmed the bridge three days later for this blog post.

Billet en français

The name of the new bridge “De Maasover” on a concrete bench which doubles as a safety barrier for the stairs. The banner on the right is temporary and still there from the festivities three days earlier.
The bridge looking south-west from Limburg to North-Brabant. The scale is enormous. The main steel span is 145 metres long.

The bridge was the last missing link in the MaasWaalpad. That is the much nicer name for the route which officially apparently has to be called the F73 fast cycle route from Nijmegen in the province of Gelderland to Cuijk in the province of North-Brabant via Molenbeek and Mook in the province of Limburg. Long distance cycle route are notoriously hard to plan because that often involves multiple municipalities having to work closely together. In this case the almost 12km long route runs through three different provinces. It is a big achievement that this route came to be. I wrote about this successful collaboration between the 3 provinces, 4 municipalities and one (now dissolved) regional governmental body when the route was partly opened in 2018.

The six metres wide deck has a different coloured part for walking, there is no kerb but the different colour is enough separation in this case. The walking part seems only 1.5 metres, which means the cycle part is 4.5 metres wide or 2.25m per direction.
The bridge looking north-east. On the horizon to the right you can see that the province of Limburg is not entirely flat. The pedestrian section may seem small but this is outside the built-up area and usually there is no walking part at all outside the built-up areas on cycleways so this is generous in the Dutch situation.

Now that the entire route was finished it was time for another party. On Saturday 26 September 2020, spaced out along the entire route, 7 different stands could be found where people could get free drinks, snacks and small gifts to celebrate. Each of the stands was run by one of the governmental bodies involved in this route.

A map of the entire fast cycle route Maaswaalpad with the locations of the 7 stands where people could get free drinks/snacks and gifts on the opening day. Each of the stands was organised by one of the seven governmental bodies involved in the construction of this route.

The bridge runs parallel to the existing railway bridge but it isn’t attached to it like in Nijmegen. Some earlier news reports wrote both bridges would be attached, but that is not true. It took about a decade to get from the initial idea to the bridge’s opening. Building it took 15 months. The ground works were festively started by the mayors of Cuijk and Mook helped by school children from Cuijk in June 2019. The preliminary works involved ground works and relocating cables, (including a number of underground main power lines and telecommunication cables) and the construction of the re-enforced concrete pillars. The 30 to 40 metre long pre-fabricated concrete approach bridges (over the flood areas of the river) were placed onto these pillars in March 2020. In the meantime the steel main span of the bridge was constructed in a factory near Rotterdam, HSM Steel Structures in Schiedam. From 13 May 2020 the bridge was shipped on a pontoon halfway across the country to its final location; a route of almost 200 kilometres. Unexpectedly, the bridge could not pass under an existing bridge (Graafsebrug) in Nijmegen. First the pontoon was filled with water to make it sit deeper in the water but the clearance was still not enough and the attempts were broken off. The following day the level in the waterway had been lowered by exactly 16 centimetres and then the new bridge could finally pass under the Graafsebrug.

The bridge was transported from Schiedam, via Rotterdam and a lot of rivers and canals all the way to its final location. A trip of almost 200 kilometres. Here the bridge with the famous bridge in Rotterdam, nicknamed the swan.
The Netherlands has so many waterways that many locations can be reached via water. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is always a straightforward route. The courses of rivers meander by nature, but this route is really not too bad. It is interesting that although both Schiedam and the bridge location are on the Maas, that river was not completely followed. Apparently this was a better, possibly shorter, route.

On Saturday 16 May 2020 the new bridge was placed by two large cranes. This was during the Corona crisis and that is why there was no gathering on site. The event was broadcast live on local television and you could follow it via the internet. It was a great sight to see the 145 metre long and 6 metre wide bridge being lifted in place by two cranes. The bridge weighs about 460 tonnes which made it an impressive task! Between that day and the opening day at the end of September there was a lot of finishing up to do.

Still from the live-stream from 16 May 2020. Two cranes lift the 460 tonnes bridge onto the pillars. The pontoons with the cranes were kept in place with anchors and ballast.
The plan for lifting the bridge in position was very detailed. For each stage and location of the bridge there was a plan stating the weight of the ballast and where the anchors would be attached. This is a highly specialised precision job on an enormous scale.

The name of the bridge had been chosen in another competition (MaasWaalpad was also chosen like that). “De Maasover” simply means “Over the Maas” which in Dutch has the extra connotation of “crossing the Maas”. The total crossing including the approach bridges is 358 meters long. At the Cuijk end in the province of North-Brabant the municipality built 2 kilometres of brand new bi-directional cycleways. They connect to residential streets that were converted into cycle streets. All this new cycling infrastructure makes cycling to the railway station in Cuijk very easy. I will show the entire ride from Cuijk to Nijmegen in my extra post this coming Monday.

These renderings were shown on the public consultations for the stakeholders. The bridge looks exactly like the rendering. Only the green has to grow back next spring.
Cross section of the bridge and its pillars. The width of the deck is 6 metres. The outside width of the bridge is 7.2 metres, slightly narrower than the 10 metre wide railway bridge. The railway bridge is a lot taller, that makes it seem narrower than the cycle bridge but that is not the case.

The bridge has cost 12 million euros. It is expected to be used by about 1,600 people per day. In my video you can see a lot of people using the bridge on foot and by bicycle. They were all just as curious about the brand new bridge as I was. Enjoy!

My video portrait of “De Maasover”, a bridge for cycling and walking.

9 thoughts on “Over the Meuse, a brand new cycle bridge

  1. What a beauty! Thanks for sharing. You mention that 1600 people use the bridge every day. Is there any charge for using this facility? Just curious, please

    1. Bridges in the Netherlands are free to use, but generally you do have to pay a little for crossing a river on a ferry, where there isn’t a bridge.

      I don’t know this specific bridge, but I expect that there is no charge for using it. The bridge is built with money from taxes, so “we the public” paid for it through our taxes and we don’t have to pay again for using it.

  2. Thanks for documenting our new neighborhood bridge. As someone from the community of Mook, it opens up another world for us. By the way, you also caught a cameo of the mayor of Mook and Middelaar cycling past you on the bridge.

    1. Thank you for this comment. Always good to hear a local perspective. Some people have said that this bridge was not necessary since there was the ferry. I am glad you confirm that having this bridge is not comparable to the ferry. Nice that I caught your mayor! I have no idea who he is, so that is a real coincidence (also that he made it into the final video.) At what time in the video can we see him?

  3. The reason the transport wasn’t 100% over the river Maas is simple: Schiedam doesn’t border the Maas, but the Nieuwe Maas (“New Maas”), which is part of the delta of the Rhine (historically, I think it got some water from the Maas)

    Never try to explain how rivers flow in the Netherlands. Most rivers have been rerouted a lot by both men and nature, canals have been dug between them.

    1. Well yes, I know that, but all those differently named rivers are connected. It’s all one delta. They could have taken the Amer/Bergse Maas/Maas which is practically staying on the same river upstream. But they chose the Waal/Maaswaalkanaal and Maas. Looks like a big detour north at first glance, but the Waal meanders less, is wider and seems shorter. So that may have been the reason was what I meant to say. Height of bridges may well have been a reason too.

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