Middelharnis and Sommelsdijk are experiencing rapid growth, and the currently open areas north of the harbor canal will eventually be developed. However, the existing traffic infrastructure is not equipped for this. A new eastern ring road is needed for proper access. This road will cross the canal and the pleasure harbor and is also situated close to the protected historic cityscape (the lilac area on the map above). To support the municipal decision-making framework, we, together with Roelofs, conducted a study on various crossing options for the canal: underneath or above.
The first option we examined is an aqueduct underneath the canal. Initially, this is the preferable option for shipping and the appearance of historic Middelharnis. An aqueduct crosses the canal invisibly and therefore has no effect on the historic appearance of Middelharnis. Additionally, it does not obstruct passing ships.
However, an aqueduct has its drawbacks. Firstly, the cost: an aqueduct is typically four times more expensive to construct than a bridge. Another disadvantage is that there is no connection to the roads on both sides of the canal. The aqueduct can only serve through traffic and not local traffic within the core. Finally, the space requirements for an aqueduct are significant; substantial ramps must be constructed on both sides, impacting water management and disrupting slow traffic connections.
In the bird’s eye view, it’s evident that the bridge is located a distance from the historic harbor (top left in the perspective). Additionally, the bridge is separated from the historic core by extensive new construction on both shores.
For smooth passage of pleasure boats with masts, the bridge must be movable. The high embankments on both sides allow the bridge to be positioned well above the water. This enables the quays on both sides to cross without intersecting. Smaller boats can also pass under the bridge without it needing to open.
Therefore, the bridge only needs to open when large ships need to pass. Thanks to modern hydraulic technology, the bridge can be opened and closed swiftly, minimizing disruption to both shipping and vehicular traffic.
The bridge essentially connects two roundabouts, resulting in the unique situation where the two directions of travel are slightly apart for safety reasons. This separation is reflected in the bridge deck, which also consists of two parts. This allows for additional natural light to enter the underpass and gives the bridge a surprising and original profile. It will become thé bridge of Middelharnis, a civil masterpiece to be proud of.