A "miracle" that Merwede bridge near Gorinchem still stands, professor says

Merwede bridge on the A27 near Gorinchem
Merwede bridge on the A27 near GorinchemPhoto: Joop van Houdt / Wikimedia Commons

The Netherlands only barely escaped a disaster comparable to the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Italy last summer, professor of safety and disaster management Ben Ale and professor of structural engineering Rob Nijsse of TU Delft said to EenVandaag after studying an investigation report about the course of events around the closing of the Merwede bridge near Gorinchem in 2016.

The investigation was done by consultancy firm Berenschot. The bridge on the A27 near Gorinchem was suddenly closed to heavy freight traffic in October 2016 due to hairline cracks in the steel beams. A few days later the bridge was closed to all traffic weighing more than 3.5 tons. At that point the bridge only had a "life expectancy" of six days, the professors said to EenVandaag. The bridge was reopened to all traffic two months later.

Ben Ale calls it "a miracle" that the bridge still stands. The professor told EenVandaag that the report makes clear that the bridge was about to collapse and raises questions about the quality of the supervision on bridges in the Netherlands. "Sometimes a fatal accident may be necessary to get the message back in the limelight", he said.