||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Dutch Wikipedia. (May 2013)|
The Hovenring is a suspended cycle path roundabout in the province of Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands and the first of its kind in the world. It is situated in between the localities of Eindhoven, Veldhoven and Meerhoven which accounts for its name, which is Dutch for "Ring of the 'Hovens'".
The Hovenring was first conceived of in 2008, when increased traffic between Eindhoven and Veldhoven was starting to overwhelm the capacity of the roundabout on the crossing of the roads known as Heerbaan in Veldhoven and the Meerenakkerweg (Heistraat).
In order to improve the flow of traffic and improve safety, it was decided to completely separate motorized and bicycle traffic. In addition, it was decided to transform the roundabout for cars into a regular crossing of streets, to improve the flow of traffic. This left a decision to be made about what to do about the bicycle traffic. The city council of Eindhoven decided that they wanted to develop an eye-catching project, in keeping with ambitions of the Brainport top technology region (a knowledge economy-driven cooperative of the municipalities in the Eindhoven metropolitan area).
The design for the Hovenring was made by the ipv Delft design agency. The name was chosen through a competition held among the population of Eindhoven and Veldhoven. Literally the name means "ring of the Hovens", referring to Eindhoven, Veldhoven and Meerhoven (the residential area where the Hovenring is). In addition, the name refers to the suspended ring of the Hovenring, as well as to the ring and needle (the central pylon) of lights that are formed by the lights that adorn the construction. With the addition of the lights, the name also refers to Eindhovens unofficial designation of "city of lights".
The construction started on 11 February 2011. The new crossing was opened on 30 December 2011. About a week later, the crossing was again closed for all traffic, because the suspension cables were found to vibrate in a manner that was considered harmful. The Hovenring was finally opened to the public on 29 June 2012.
The Hovenring is officially a roundabout, but in fact it is a circular suspension bridge. The deck has a 72 metres (236 ft) diameter and is suspended from a 70 metres (230 ft) tall central pylon by 24 cables. The entire construction is made of steel.
The suspension bridge had to be closed almost immediately after delivery due to unexpected vibrations in the cables caused by the wind. An investigation of the problem was undertaken during the next several weeks by professors of civil and mechanical engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Delft University of Technology and professor Albert Zasso of the Politecnico di Milano.
It was finally determined that the problem was vortices of wind forming in the lee of the cables, causing far heavier vibrations than expected during design. A solution was found by applying additional dampers on the cables. Unfortunately this caused an extra delay of a month in the opening of the bridge, since the contractor initially mounted the dampers incorrectly.
An important predecessor to the Dutch design is the cycle overpass roundabout of Tjensvollkrysset in Stavanger, Norway. Opened in 2010, it bears remarkable resemblance to the Hovenring, sharing for instance its 72m diameter. The construction is out of concrete rather than steel, and support is more conventional. Considering the Eindhoven ring was designed from 2008 onwards, the designs may very well have been conceived independantly of each other. External link: aerial view of the ring on Google maps
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