Amsterdam moves to accelerate IJ connections

News item
Fotograaf: Henk Honing

Today, the Municipal Executive of Amsterdam announced the official preferential decision on the “Leap across the IJ” initiative. The executive has now made official its preference to accelerate the construction of connections along the IJ. This preferential decision is not the definitive decision. With this decision, the Municipal Executive is greenlighting the feasibility study of the plans. A definitive go/no-go decision by the City Council will be made in 2020, based on the ultimate proposal by the Municipal Executive.

Port of Amsterdam sees the need for an infrastructural connection with Amsterdam-North, and supports the municipal authorities in their ambition to achieve this. Port of Amsterdam is very strongly in favour of a quick resolution to local traffic problems by optimising ferry services in a process that began with the development of the Sixhaven station. The decision-making behind the ultimate implementation of the plan could, in the eyes of Port of Amsterdam, be moving faster.

However, Port of Amsterdam’s preference would be for a tunnel connection, rather than a bridge, for the following reasons:

  1. A bridge entails certain nautical risks. It restricts the room for ships to manoeuvre, increases the risk of nautical collisions (in part due to the placement of bridge supports in the shipping lanes), and impedes visibility in poor weather or foggy conditions. Bridges also disrupt radar imaging.
  2. A bridge will often be open to allow passage for both commercial and recreational craft, which will be an impediment to cyclists and pedestrians.
  3. Finally, a bridge will have consequences for the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam (PTA), which will have to be relocated if the City Council makes the official preferential decision this summer to build the Java Bridge at the envisioned location, the “Kop Java”.

Port of Amsterdam is emphatic in expressing its appreciation for the city’s seeking a solution for the potential relocation of the PTA in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. In doing this, the city is demonstrating its commitment to the cruise ship sector, which is important to the city and the region, and which generates approximately €100 million in revenues annually.
This is also in line with the decision to construct the new sea lock 10 years earlier, which Amsterdam contributes to financially. The new sea lock, which will be operational in 2019, will facilitate both the cruise ship sector and transport from the hinterland via inland navigation.

Port of Amsterdam has clearly expressed the preference for a tunnel as fixed shore-to-shore connection. The “Memorandum of response to public consultation and recommendation procedure for preferential decision ‘Leap across the IJ’” (page 399, “SCBA and Qualitative Review of ‘Leap across the IJ’”) presents a comparison between the shallow Java Tunnel and the original Java Bridge. The shallow tunnel variant scores better than the bridge.

If on 19 July 2017 Amsterdam does make the definitive choice for a bridge, then the ultimate design will have to be nautically safe and future-proof. That means that Port of Amsterdam and the Central Nautical Management (Centraal Nautisch Beheer) see the need for a bridge at a height of +11.35 N.A.P. This would allow inland navigation with 4 High Cube Containers to reach the hinterland via the IJ, an important European transport artery.

Follow-up process
Just as in the period leading up to this announcement, in the coming months Port of Amsterdam will be working closely with the City of Amsterdam on finding a location for a new cruise ship terminal. The city has invited Port of Amsterdam to identify a third location, alongside the two locations already identified (Coenhaven and Achtersluispolder in Zaanstad). This process is ongoing.

The options that each location offers, and which location is the preferred choice, will become clear in the coming months. Port of Amsterdam is pleased with the municipality’s linking of the future of the PTA and the construction of the bridge, and agrees that there should be no bridge before a solution for the sea cruise sector has been found.

Finally, Port of Amsterdam also wishes to express its appreciation for the cooperation with the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, the Province of North Holland, the port community and the region. In the coming months, Port of Amsterdam will continue to devote every effort to represent the collective interests of the port community and the nautical sector, and at the same time make a constructive contribution, in proper consultation with the City of Amsterdam, to keeping the city accessible and connecting the city’s boroughs.