Former Queen Beatrix opened a bridge for walking and cycling in Dordrecht named after her late husband prince Claus. The mother of the reigning king stepped down from her position in 2013, but she does still perform such royal duties every now and then. Since the festivities on 26 October 2021 the bridge has been in use. It closed a missing link to a new area of the city, something the city had wanted for quite some time.
The new urban expansion Stadswerven, north-east of the historic city centre of Dordrecht, is under development. The city of Dordrecht wanted to connect the north part of this area (on a sort of peninsula formed by canals and rivers) better to the city centre. That would give people who consider living there an incentive to cycle to the city rather than take their cars. That is why a report of 2015 already mentioned the bridge. The city was keen to construct the bridge before the housing was developed, so that people would not have to change travel habits after a while. The bridge was originally planned to be opened in 2018, but it has now been opened late 2021. The housing was apparently delayed as well, because that is not there yet for the most part. This means the bridge was still opened in time. In the 2015 report, an amount of €7.7 million was reserved for the missing link. The builder of the bridge, Dura Vermeer, mentions on their site that the bridge has cost almost €11.7 million.
The city wanted the bridge to become a new icon and indeed it is of an exceptional design with many technical innovations. This design was chosen in a competition, which architect René van Zuuk had won. The bridge was constructed during 2020 and 2021. The steel bridge has concrete pillars. Some were prefabricated (as was the deck) and shipped to their final location. Some larger concrete parts of the bridge were poured on site. The finished bridge is 140 metres long. It has a 260-ton moving part that stands 57 metres tall when the bridge is opened for ships to pass. Many of these details can be found in an interesting video of the building phase of this bridge, published by Dura Vermeer.
The bridge will also be part of a larger cycling network. It will connect the city centre of Dordrecht, via the new area Stadswerven to the main cycle route Beneden Merwederoute (aka F15) and on the city centre side to the F16 that makes it possible to cycle fast and conveniently all the way to Rotterdam. With that in mind it is a bit odd that the bridge has no separate part for walking and cycling. With the number of people using it today that was no problem, it will be interesting to follow how that will develop once all the housing is ready and the route is indeed connected to a main cycle route. Something the local branch of the Cyclists’ Union is also interested in.