The first lengths of rail will be laid on the new land of Maasvlakte 2 this week. The first trains should be running on the 12.3-km railway line in ten months’ time. But before it gets that far, all kinds of activities have to be completed and delivered. Everything comes together in the autumn of 2012.
With a kind of domino effect each part has to be ready precisely on time to make the next step possible. Once the new seawall is ready at the end of 2012 and its road and rail systems have been laid, the new port entrance can be opened early in 2013 when the Yangtzehaven is dug through. The space to grow for deepsea-related activities that the port of Rotterdam needs will then be available on time.
Construction of Maasvlakte 2 started a good three years ago. Now most of the sand required for the construction of the first phase has been put where it is meant to be. The stage of large-scale spraying of sand from the sea is behind us. With more than 200 million cubic metres of sand in place, top priority of contractor PUMA (a joint venture of Boskalis and Van Oord) in the past twelve months was building the hard seawall close to the Maasmond. All construction flows were active simultaneously in 2011: it was one continual rush hour on Maasvlakte 2. Besides sand and rock being deposited, the first 500 metres of deepsea quay were delivered and dredged free. The first customer (Rotterdam World Gateway) gained access to its site. The new dunes were finished, roads and viaducts were constructed and work was done on the infrastructure for utilities. Construction of the railway and connection of the current Maasvlakte to Maasvlakte 2 also commenced, putting the project right on schedule. In July 2012 the gap in the sprayed sand dam will be closed, and at the start of 2013 the connection between the Yangtzehaven and the new port basins will be cut through.
Emphasis on seawall and infrastructure
Currently the activities are concentrating on completing the hard seawall and constructing and connecting infrastructure. In 2013, the Yangtzehaven will become the access fairway to Maasvlakte 2. The land where now the Europaweg to Euromax and MOT still runs, will be scooped out at the end of 2012. It will only be possible to reach Euromax, Gate and MOT by the new road being constructed behind the seawall on Maasvlakte 2. Because optimum accessibility to the businesses in the northwest corner of the Maasvlakte must be guaranteed before the Yangtzehaven is cut through, road and rail are being laid at a great pace from the south and the north at the same time.
Just behind the new seawall, the infrastructure will eventually have three to four flyovers, also known as dune viaducts. They will direct the traffic from the road on the outer contour to the coast or to the business sites. Contractor MNO Vervat will deliver the first dune viaduct this week. This junction opens up the current Distripark in the continuation of the A15 motorway. Rail and roads cross each other on different levels. At the interchanges, the road seems more or less dug into the dunes. The retaining walls of the dune viaduct have an organic design with arched, round walls. By contrast, the bridges and viaducts are solid and their strong industrial design and rhythm connect with the port area. The colour schemes of the coloured concrete also emphasise the contrast: the retaining walls are white concrete, while the bridges are dark grey. The dune viaduct thus forms the link not only between the existing port area and Maasvlakte 2, but also between nature and port, two worlds full of contrast. Road traffic to and from the Maasvlakte will start using the dune viaduct around the middle of March 2012.
On the right track
Following a successful test this summer and the construction of a level crossing at the RWG site, subcontractor BAVO Spoor (BAM Rail and Volker Rail) will lay down the first few metres of railway this week on the new land of Maasvlakte 2. The track will connect to the railway on the existing Maasvlakte near Railterminal West of ECT. In September the railway track on the current Maasvlakte was closed down for 200 hours so this connection could be made. Rail service will have to be interrupted another two times in 2012. That will enable the Lyondell rail to be adjusted to the new situation and towards the end of that year trains will be able to run on Maasvlakte 2. Once the railway has been realised, contractor PUMA can make the “cut-through” between the Yangtzehaven and the port basins of Maasvlakte 2. On Maasvlakte 2 rail transport will have all the space it needs to grow. Currently around nine percent of all containers leave the port by rail. This is intended to reach 20 percent from the Maasvlakte in the future.
The hard seawall that protects the north side of Maasvlakte 2 is proceeding steadily. The ‘wet’ activities underwater were completed in November. In the meantime the Blockbuster continues to work briskly on the block dam that will reach the mainland in mid-February 2012. Besides the block dam, the hard seawall on the landward side and a small portion on the current top will also be coated with clay. Rocks will then be deposited to create the stony dune. The second layer of clay will be deposited in the spring, after which the grass will be sown on the dune. PUMA will deliver the hard seawall to the Port of Rotterdam Authority in April 2012.
The seawall in the southwest will look like it came into being naturally. A wide sandy beach will have a row of dunes behind it. Just like on the current Maasvlakte, nature will have all the space it needs and the seven-kilometre beach will be able to accommodate everyone. The northern section is reserved for sportspeople, while the southern area is for seaside visitors and the area in between is for nude bathing. The first part of the new beach along Maasvlakte 2 will be ready for walking, swimming and sunbathing in May 2012. The sport beach will be opened in May 2013.
With three years of construction behind us and less than two years until the first ship berths at the quay, the construction of Maasvlakte 2 is well over halfway. While 2011 was mainly concerned with distances and volumes, 2012 is the year in which everything comes together: the seawall will be closed and the infrastructure connected so that access for shipping can be opened via the Yangtzehaven. Both customers (RWG and APM Terminals) are building their terminals in 2012 for occupation in 2014. It is anticipated that the existing container terminals in Rotterdam will then have reached their maximum capacity.
FutureLand Information Centre about the construction of Maasvlakte 2 receives a good number of visitors. Recently the free information centre welcomed its 300,000th visitor. The FutureLand Express, a little train that takes people on an hour-long tour around the new land for € 5.50 per person, is also doing well. Since it started running at the end of June 2010, more than 35,000 people have already had a ride on it. FutureLand opened to the public on 1 May 2009. Shortly before the opening, Queen Beatrix was the first visitor.
Dredging Today Staff, December 12, 2011; Image: portofrotterdam