Arcadis recruited to help Amsterdam fix its crumbling canals

With Amsterdam’s many bridges and canal walls in danger of crumbling, Arcadis and geo-data specialist Fugro have landed a place on a major initiative to shore them up.

The pair are one of three teams to get six-year engineering services contracts, each worth €30m, in the drive to replace or renovate around 850 bridges and 200km of canal walls.

Amsterdam is famous for its canal system, built in the 17th century. But their masonry wall structures rest on timber piles driven into what used to be a swamp, and there are alarming signs that they are approaching the end of their lives.

In one recent incident, around 20m of canal wall near the University of Amsterdam disintegrated without warning in September last year.

The reconstruction will take at least 20 years and cost no less than €2bn, The New York Times reported.

"At the time these were built to carry the weight of horses and carriages, not of 40-ton cement trucks and other heavy equipment," Egbert de Vries, the city alderman in charge of the scheme, told the paper.

Arcadis and Fugro will provide soil investigations, structural inspections, design, contracting, supervision and advice on programming.

"The restoration of historical city centres is vital to their preservation, and Arcadis is proud to be part of this important project aimed at improving quality of life for the citizens of Amsterdam," said Arcadis chief executive Peter Oosterveer. "Resilience is increasingly important amid the various environmental threats facing our world, such as extreme weather events." 

Arcadis said the six-year contract has the option to be extended for two years, twice.

Image: The Keizersgracht – Emperor’s canal – in Amsterdam (Lies Thru a Lens/CC BY 2.0)

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