WORKHOVEN Bunnik Municipality has made a design decision on radical changes to a national monument and part of UNESCO’s world heritage: the Iron Bridge from 1890 – also known as the Beverweerd Bridge. Located on Beverweerd estate. This permit will be available for inspection for six weeks from 6 April 2022, which means that the deadline expires on 18 May. Bunniks Nieuws took a good look at the drawings and came across some surprises.
by Kuun Jenniskens
The 3m90 wide iron bridge is located in Molenhoeflaan over Kromme Rijn near Beverweerd Castle and is part of the Dutch Waterline. On July 26, 2021, it was solemnly announced that the Dutch waterline was given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This had been advocated for years – also by the province – so the champagne jumped.
BREAKDOWN FOR DECOMPOSITION APPLICATION The same week, Bunniks Nieuws found out that an application had been submitted by the province of Utrecht (owner of the bridge) to Bunnik municipality to demolish this bridge. The tumult that arose around this caused the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) to reconsider their initial positive response. They were not fully informed, they noted, about alternative routes for heavy agricultural traffic. The RCE therefore asked the province of Utrecht to substantiate the need for this demolition and renovation. RCE also formulated a number of adjustments and recommendations to preserve the current appearance of the bridge.
Since then, some things have changed in the application and there have been adjustments in the design. The current anchorages, the current width of the bridge deck and the vertical clearance were to be maintained by the Rijksdienst. With the new application of December 12, 2021, the basic principle is that all original parts must be preserved. These are handrails, main beams and abutments. Due to the monumental status of the bridge, the current height of 1 m is maintained, and this differs according to the application from the new building order.
PLACE FOR HEAVY AGRICULTURAL TRAFFIC The original reason for changing the bridge is to make it suitable for heavy agricultural traffic. The bridge itself is in excellent technical condition, but the bridge is structurally overloaded. To strengthen the construction, four piles have been drilled into the ground behind the facilities on both sides. New support points are mounted on this. This change gives the bridge a load-bearing capacity for heavier agricultural equipment.
As a result of this intervention, the Iron Bridge will be one meter longer on each side. It must be a strange sight, because the bridge deck is no longer connected to the original bridge heads. Following advice from the RCE, it was decided to lay narrower planks on the extended part of the bridge to highlight the old bridge. The original bridge deck thus becomes visually visible.
CONFUSION ABOUT DRAWINGS The application itself leads to confusion on a number of points. This is an application of 12 December 2021, including drawings from 4 November 2021. These are the drawings of the 1 meter bridge railing. But does this really mean that the bridge loins will not be raised by 30 centimeters? What creates confusion is that the rejected drawings from April 30, 2021, showing the raised railings, have also been added. These drawings therefore form part of this application. What’s up with that? What are the consequences?
BRIDGE REST STILL STILL? Nieuws involves an expert who notes that because the application is accompanied by two different drawings and due to textual ambiguities, both situations are legally allowed indirectly. The province of Utrecht can now choose what it does, according to this expert. Furthermore, the new drawing does not contain all the details of the existing situation. For example, the wrought iron feet are missing and it is detailed with pipe profiles. While in the existing situation there are full wrought iron railings.
Legally, the bridge railing can still be raised on the basis of this permit. If the municipality had wanted to prevent this, it should have dropped the drawing of 30. April 2021 with the increase.
Jernbroen over Kromme Rijn – Kuun Jenniskens
SO THAT? What does that increase mean? At the moment the brace is 97 cm. When raised to 130 cm, cut the original railing onto a 33 cm post. That rod is made of a different material; the original railing is cut into pieces and raised with hollow box profiles that are bolted to the original full wrought iron posts.
According to the RCE, this adjustment was not necessary; National monuments must not comply with the building decree. Due to these carelessness in the permit, there is still room to raise the bridge railing.
Two different drawings have been incorrectly added to the design permit
MUNICIPALITY CANCELS FAILURE Just before the announcement, Bunniks Nieuws presented this issue to Bunnik municipality. In its response, the municipality acknowledges the error. A spokesman on behalf of the municipality: ,, Two different drawings have been incorrectly added to the design permit. This omission was due to the fact that the applicant submitted two drawings with different names. The drawing with the unraveled railing has a later stamp. We therefore assume that this latest version is decisive, so the drawing is from a later date and with a lower railing. After the response deadline has expired, we will correct this omission when the final permission is granted, and then the old drawing (the one with the higher railing) will also be removed from the permission folder. This is also explicitly stated in the final decision. ” So the error is corrected. The drawing with the high railing is removed from the folder and stamped ‘expired’.
INCREASED TOWN TRAFFIC Furthermore, little attention is paid to the traffic situation; There is a dangerous turn in Molenhoeflaan and the road is not designed for this heavy traffic. This heavy traffic will definitely damage the house in the future of the monumental house located close to the road in the bend; the road is partly on their foundation. It is also an important recreational route. It must be safe to cycle or take an evening walk there.
NO COMMON PLAN The Cuypers Company’s advice to work with local stakeholders on an alternative plan for the opening of this agricultural area has not been taken into account. In Werkhoven, two project groups work with traffic. They are considering a proposal to leave the bridge intact and relieve the heavy freight traffic in the village center of Werkhoven. However, these groups must be easy for the municipality or province to contact.
COSTS A FEW TONS In addition, adjusting the bridge is a costly affair. Two years ago this was estimated at 350,000 euros, with the current price increases this is certainly underestimated. Money that can also be invested in removing obstacles – which do not appear to have been properly investigated – on other routes.
SUMMER COMMITTEE What is also not stated in the application is whether the beautiful old trunk oak should be felled. It takes decades to get such a rich big tree back.