The Van Brienenoord Bridge (Dutch: Van Brienenoordbrug) is an arch bridge for car traffic over the river Nieuwe Maas, which is a major distributary of the river Rhine. The bridge is located at the east side of Rotterdam, Netherlands. The bridge exists of two almost identical arches laying parallel and next to each other, followed by three bascule bridges. With over 250,000 vehicles every day the Van Brienenoord Bridge, which is part of the A16 highway is the most busy road in the Netherlands. Bicycle riders can also use the bridges to cross the Nieuwe Maas river. The Van Brienenoord Bridge is 1320 metres long and ships of 24 metres and lower are able to pass through underneath it.
The eastern (287,5 m long) arch was built in 1965, the western (305 m long and slightly broader) one followed in 1990. The bridge is named after the underlying Eiland van Brienenoord (Island of Brienenoord) in the river, which was bought by and named after a baron Arnoud Willem van Brienen van de Groote Lindt in 1847. An oord is an area.
An average of 140.000 ships pass the bridge, every year. Approximately 500 of these ships are high enough to require the bridge to be opened, a process which takes 18 minutes. Suspending road traffic and opening the bridge takes 4 minutes, letting the ship pass takes 10 minutes, and closing the bridge requires an additional 4 minutes. During this time, road traffic is blocked by boom barriers. As of November 2005, the bridge is no longer controlled locally but from the nearby city of Rhoon, where the regions Road Traffic Control is located.
Having the bridge opened for shipping needs to be requested at the harbor authorities, at least 3 hours in advance. Further action is undertaken by Road Traffic Control.
An electro-mechanical failure on 17 March 2006 left the bridge open for about an hour, on the middle of day, causing traffic jams up to 7 kilometres in length. The western bridge was closed first, restoring traffic to Breda. The eastern bridge was closed at approximately 1 o'clock AM, restoring traffic to The Hague and Utrecht. On 5 November 2006 it failed to close again, this time due to an electrical failure, forcing engineers to close the bridge manually.
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