Waalhaven footbridge


Both in colour and shape, the new footbridge across a marshalling yard on the border of Rotterdam’s Waalhaven port refers to the nearby port and it’s container cranes. It was designed by Dutch bridge design office ipv Delft, who managed to make the structurally challenging design look effortless.


For decades, the marshalling yard has been a barrier for pedestrians wanting to get to the Waalhaven port. This bridge now finally nullifies the barrier, while creating a safer location in the process, as before people used to cross the tracks on foot.

Prior to the bridge design, ipv Delft were asked to perform a feasibility study to see whether building a bridge on the location was at all possible. The need for a footbridge had been subject of an ongoing discussion for decades. There were several complicating factors in place: the marshalling yard with its tracks placed close together allowed little room for bridge supports and the presence of quite a few vital underground cables further limited possibilities. In addition, the eastern (town)side of the very embankment that the marshalling yard is built on, is part of Rotterdam’s primary flood defence system, which means it cannot be perforated by foundations.


The presence of the marshalling yard is key in the slender design. Because trains are only allowed to travel at very low speed, there is basically no risk of collisions. Therefore, the bridge does not have to be able to withstand collision loads, which has resulted in a very slender bridge structure.


The 42-meter long steel bridge has a 29,4 meter main span and a 12,6 meter cantilevered section on the eastern side. The structure has a U-shaped cross-section, made up of a bridge deck and 25-millimetre thick load-bearing steel plate railings. Structurally, railings and deck work together and form a stable U-shape that allows for the relatively large span as well as the cantilever. The supports are made out portals of steel box girders on concrete foundations. The largest one is placed next to the marshalling yard on the western side, the other one in between two railway tracks towards the eastern side of the yard.

In order for the bridge to have a transparent and dynamic appearance, the railings have diamond shaped perforations, which increase and decrease in size according to the force field. With perforations being small where the largest loads are and large where the smallest loads are, the bridge also gives insight in the way it works structurally. And to top it all, the bridge offers wonderful views on the Port of Rotterdam.


Location: Waalhaven Oostszijde, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Client: Port of Rotterdam
Design: ipv Delft creative engineers, Delft, the Netherlands
Structural engineering: Adams Civiel Advies, Druten, the Netherlands
Construction company: Wallaard, Noordeloos, the Netherlands
Steel manufacturer: Van der Zalm Metaalindustrie, Brakel, the Netherlands
Total building costs: 497.400,- euro
Completion: 2016

more information?

call Sietse Cieraad:
+ 31 15 750 25 78

project team

Sietse Cieraad
Adriaan Kok
Ivo Mulders

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