Historic bridge to make way for Jeff Bezos’ yacht

By Catrin Jones08 February 2022

Authorities in Rotterdam have agreed to dismantle the historic De Hef Bridge to allow a sailing yacht, built for Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, to pass through.

This is seen as a controversial decision since the city council previously promised not to touch the national monument after its restoration in 2017.

With an estimated fortune of around €200 million, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is one of the world’s richest men. Picture: ReutersConnect

Bezos commissioned a Dutch company to build the giant 127m-long three-masted yacht, which when completed will exceed the 40m bridge clearance.

This led the company to ask the municipality to dismantle the central structure with the costs being borne by Bezos himself.

Ton Wesselink, the president of the Rotterdam Historical Society, confirmed that the city council has already authorised the tasks to dismantle this 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.”

“We don’t have many historic buildings in Rotterdam. Many monuments were lost during the war, and we like this bridge very much. It has been restored a few years ago and it was promised not to touch it, so it is not understandable that now, just like that and because a ship wants to pass, we have to dismantle it. There will always be a risk of damage,” Wesselink said.

Rotterdam’s De Hef bridge is a steel rail bridge built in 1877. Picture: Adobe Stock Images

It is not clear when these tasks will be carried out, nor how the bridge will be dismantled, but Wesselink believes the project will be done sometime this summer.

Marcel Walravens, who is in charge of the De Hef bridge, stressed that the economic interest of the region was considered in agreeing to the application.

He recalled that “Rotterdam has been declared the maritime capital of Europe, and shipbuilding and activity within the sector is an important pillar.”

The council have said that the hope is to remove the centre part of the bridge in a matter of days and hopefully put it back together within a week.

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