Historic Dutch bridge to be taken down to make way for Jeff Bezos’ yacht

Staff Report,

8 Feb 2022

City of Rotterdam agrees to dismantle centre section of heritage structure to accommodate vessel’s 40m tall masts and put it back together in a week, as residents oppose decision

The city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has agreed to remove a section of a historic bridge to make way for a superyacht reportedly being built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to pass through.

A spokesperson for the city of Rotterdam said the mid-section of the century-old “Koningshavenbrug”, known by locals as “De Hef”, will be removed this summer to make way for a yacht with 40-metre masts, according to Reuters. The bridge, first built over the river in 1927, has had a central role in the city’s history and was heavily damaged during the bombardment of Rotterdam in May 1940. The bridge is now officially protected.

The city council said it hopes to remove the centre part of the bridge and put it back together within a week. The project is expected to be done sometime in summer this year, but it is not yet clear how it will be performed.

The city spokesperson declined to comment on who owns the ship but Rotterdam broadcaster Rijnmond reported that the yacht is owned by Jeff Bezos. The vessel, known as Y721 during construction, will measure 127m, making it the largest sailing yacht in the world when it launches later this year, according to figures published by Boat International. The yacht is being built by Oceanco, whose officials did not respond to requests for comment and neither did representatives for Jeff Bezos.

To get from Oceanco's inland dock in Alblasserdam to the North Sea, the yacht must pass the old bridge, the first landmark to be restored in post-war Rotterdam. The city said it carefully considered its duty to care for the bridge and the economic interests created by the project before "ultimately deciding to vote in favour of this request".

Undisclosed costs for the bridge operation will be covered by the ship builder, the city said.
Meanwhile, the decision to partly dismantle the bridge has caused controversy. More than 4,000 people have shown interest in a Facebook event calling for Rotterdam residents to throw rotten eggs at the superyacht when it passes the bridge.

Reports said that the historical bridge had been restored in 2017 and the city council had then promised not to touch the national monument. Ton Wesselink, president of the Rotterdam Historical Society, was quoted by construction news website khl.com as confirming that the city council had authorised dismantling the bridge and, although “the risk of damage to the structure can be reduced to almost zero because the tasks will be done by professional people, the risk will always be there”.

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