Day 69/365 of Steel – The Waalbrug

Inauguration of The Waalbrug on 16 june 1936

The Waalbrug is an arch bridge over the river Waal that connects the centre of Nijmegen with Lent. Two kilometres to the west lies the city bridge De Oversteek, that was opened in 2013. The full length of the Waal bridge is 604 meters. The arch spans a distance of 244 metres between the two piers, making it the longest arch bridge in Europe when it was completed in 1936.

The Waalbrug Arch Bridge
Fig 1: The Waalbrug Arch Bridge – Postcard

Unlike many other bridges from the same period and with similar construction, such as the IJssel Bridge near Zwolle, the John S. Thompson Bridge near Grave and the John Frost Bridge near Arnhem, the Waalbrug is unique because it is an arch bridge in the literal sense of the word; the transfer of forces actually rests in the two piers.

The Waalbrug Bridge Under Construction
Fig 2: The Waalbrug Bridge Under Construction
Collectie Regionaal Archief Nijmegen

Until 1936, there was no fixed connection for ordinary traffic to the other side of the Waal. All traffic had to be ferried across with the “Zeldenrust” cable car. For train traffic, the railway bridge had been available since 1879. On 23 October 1931, construction of the bridge began according to a design by architect G. Schoorl. On 16 June 1936, the bridge was opened by Queen Wilhelmina in the presence of 200,000 spectators.

The Waalbrug Bridge At Night
Fig 3: The Waalbrug Bridge At Night
Photo: Arup

On 10 May 1940, during the German attack on the Netherlands in the Second World War, the Dutch engineers blew up the bridge to prevent a rapid advance of the German army. During the occupation, the Germans repaired the bridge and it could be used by traffic again from 1943. On 20 September 1944, the bridge fell almost undamaged into Allied hands.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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