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Installing a roof? I thought Zuidasdok had shut down?

In the night of Friday 1 to Saturday 2 November we are going to be sliding a gigantic concrete structure, measuring 70 by 15 metres and 2 metres thick, across the A10 southbound motorway and the railway line and into position. To do so we are going to dig up the outer ring of the A10 southbound motorway (from West to East) and the railway line along an 85 metre long section. The preparations will already be starting on Thursday evening, 31 October, from 22.00 onwards. The road will be open again for the morning rush hour on Monday 4 November. Trains will start running again on Sunday 3 November, but the service will be limited. We need three consecutive days to do the excavation work, install the roof and return everything to ‘normal’.

That’s right. The A10 southbound motorway was closed and there were no trains via Amsterdam Zuid and RAI stations on a number of weekends in May and June as well. That was when all the preparatory work was carried out to enable the installation of roof sections for the Brittenpassage, the new extra tunnel for rail travellers using Amsterdam Zuid station. The idea was that we would also use the long Whitsun weekend to install the roof section. That turned out not to be feasible because not all the necessary work had been done to enable the massively heavy (3 million kilo) concrete roof section to be installed. That was hugely disappointing because the railway shutdown had to be requested a long time in advance (around one and a half years) so that the timetable could be adjusted and rail travellers informed. Because we did not manage to get the work done at Whitsun, we had to look for a new date on which to finish the work off. And now we have one. However, instead of on Whit Monday there will now be no trains and the road will be closed on a working day (Friday 1 November). So this time people will not really have the option of travelling to work by car. That is why we are appealing to you to work somewhere else.

The first part of the roof for the future Brittenpassage along the A10 motorway
Marcel Steinbach

Well, not exactly. It’s true that the project is facing setbacks because it is more complex than first thought. This has to do with, among other things, the fact that it appears to be taking more time than we thought to come up with a good and complete design for Zuidasdok. We reported a delay as long ago as in February. Following a thorough assessment we were unfortunately unable to accept the provisional design that the ZuidPlus building consortium submitted to us. ZuidPlus then decided to ‘scale down’ its own organisation temporarily (around 400 specialists work at its offices). However, two projects are still going ahead, namely creation of the design and the work to increase the capacity of Amsterdam Zuid station as soon as possible, and the construction of the extra passenger tunnel is part of this. ZuidPlus has therefore not given up, but is now focusing on these two projects.

We want an integral design because that is the only way to determine whether the design can actually be implemented in practice. That was what the recalibration phase was intended for, so that we could identify any problems and resolve them in advance, rather than when work is in full swing on site. Zuidasdok is a huge project in a very restricted and busy area. Everything is interconnected (the widening of the A10 southbound motorway and rerouting it via tunnels, the construction of the new station and the work on the Amstel and De Nieuwe Meer junctions). This means we have to make sure that everything is designed in an interconnected way as well. We have learned from previous large-scale infrastructure projects that it is better to identify and resolve problems in advance, rather than after the actual excavation and installation work has started. An integral design enables us to manage the construction process on site. Despite not having an integral design we did actually start constructing the Brittenpassage. However, we thoroughly investigated whether the work could be started before the total integral design was ready. It turned out that there was no reason not to.

Artist impression of the future Brittenpassage

No. However, there are concerns. On 23 July 2019 the government bodies that commissioned the Zuidasdok project (the central government, the provincial government of Noord-Holland, the Amsterdam Regional Transport Authority [Vervoerregio Amsterdam] and the municipality of Amsterdam) sent a letter to their elected representatives. This letter stated that the projects had been delayed once again and that talks were taking place between Zuidasdok and ZuidPlus under the leadership of an external expert, professor Marcel Hertogh. The letter also announced an investigation ‘into the usefulness and necessity of the work’, to be led by a so-called competent third party. The idea is that both Hertogh and the ‘competent third party’ will present their findings in the first quarter of 2020. The same letter also states that ‘the joint commissioning parties [have] nevertheless expressed the wish to improve the capacity of Amsterdam Zuid station as soon as possible’. In connection with this, various work will be carried out around Amsterdam Zuid station in the autumn.

Indeed. In the night of 1 to 2 November we will therefore be sliding the first roof section into place (you can be there to see it happen if you wish). This means that on 4 November the first roof section will be in place underneath the railway line (under platforms 2 and 3 to be precise). However this does not, in any way, mean that the Brittenpassage will be finished. Among other things ZuidPlus has to construct other roof sections for the Brittenpassage first. So we are going to be very busy constructing and installing roof sections in the time ahead. There will also be inconvenience for travellers. We will let you know when we are going to do what as soon as possible. Incidentally, we are not just going to be working on the Brittenpassage. Work will continue on creating a good and complete design for Zuidasdok behind the scenes.

3 webcams follow the work

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