Update 02/04/22: The mayor of Rotterdam has notified local media that no decision has been reached and that no permit application has been filed. If a request is made, a decision will be made based on an evaluation of the potential consequences and whether Bezos will foot the bill, among other factors. A historic bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands, will be demolished to make way for Jeff Bezos’ superyacht.
Since 1878, the Koningshaven Bridge, locally known as “De Hef,” has been a landmark in Rotterdam. After many ships became stranded in the tight passage and a collision involving the German ship Kandelfels in 1918, it was modified to a lifting bridge. After being destroyed during the bombing of Rotterdam, it was one of the first monuments in the city to be repaired. It will now be destroyed in order for the Amazon founder’s 127-meter (417-foot) luxury sailing boat, the Y721, to reach the ocean. When completed by the ship-building firm Oceanco, the yacht will be the world’s largest vessel of its kind, and it will be too big to fit beneath De Hef.
Despite pledges that the bridge would not be destroyed again after restorations in 2014-2017, the central portion of the bridge will be removed temporarily to allow the billionaire’s yacht to leave. “It’s the only route to the sea,” a mayor’s office official told AFP, adding that the yacht’s construction created jobs and that the bridge will be repaired once the project was completed.
According to project organizer Marcel Walravens of Rijnmond News, partially finishing the ship before relocating it elsewhere isn’t viable, thus the bridge will have to be dismantled. “If you’re doing a big project somewhere, you want all your tools to be there,” he explained. “Otherwise, you’ll have to constantly switch back and forth. Furthermore, because this is such a massive project, there are few places where it can be completed.”
Local green lawmakers and historians have expressed alarm about the proposal to demolish the bridge, which is a national landmark. “Employment is vital,” Ton Wesselink of the Roterodamum Historical Society told Rijnmond News, “but there are limits to what you may and may do with our legacy.”
“Now we have to demolish our lovely national monument because this individual made his money by squeezing employees and dodging taxes and regulations?” Stephan Leewis, a Dutch green councilor, stated. “That’s taking it a little too far.” The bridge is slated to be demolished and restored this summer, with the project manager anticipating that it will take roughly two weeks.