Maeslantkering – by Peter

June 9, 2024

We started the day with breakfast at around 7:30am. To an onlooker, the sheer volume of food on all of our plates might have suggested that we were running a marathon. Once breakfast had been devoured, and our lunches had been made we set off into the city of Rotterdam in two separate groups. In sharp contrast with the nearly overwhelming levels of activity in the city on Friday, the streets were nearly deserted as it seemed the entire population was recovering from a collective Sunday hangover. It wasn’t long before the first group had hit a patch of glass and contracted a now familiar (and despised) case of flat tires. This issue persisted as we reached the outskirts of the city and entered the countryside. Air pumps had to be ferried to and from groups in order to keep our bikes operational.

As the rear group continued to suffer from flat tires my group wound through the familiar yet still beautiful Dutch countryside filled yet again with cows, sheep, sprawling fields tall grass waving in the wind, all bathing in the pleasant sunlight. 

The tranquility of this landscape was rudely interrupted by a straight and exposed path of around four miles in length traveling along the Nieuve waterway containing a brutal headwind which made our biking efforts quite difficult. The Maeslantkering storm surge barrier, our destination, loomed in the distance.

Once we had arrived at the Maeslantkering, we were greeted by our tour guide Alexander who presented us with a video of how the structure was built. Afterwards, our group was brought outside to take a tour of the gargantuan structure. The Maeslantkering, a deployable storm barrier consisting of two triangular arms each as big as an Eiffel Tower and twice the weight, loomed over us as we walked its perimeter. Despite its imposing size, and might that was possessed by this conglomerate of welded steel, the discussion with Alexander moved to how unsustainable a structure such as this would be for the future of the Netherlands in the context of new challenges such as climate change.

With factors such as high maintenance costs and low usage, the Maeslantkering is a temporary solution at most. Compared to 20th century Dutch water engineering logic, 21st century thinking revolves around living with water rather than fighting against it, such as the implementation of projects like room for the river. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see future massive engineering projects such as this in the future. However, the ingenuity, planning, and precision that went into creating such a structure cannot be ignored, and the Maeslantkering still serves as an example of environmental engineering at its most grand and spectacular.

4 Replies to “Maeslantkering – by Peter”

  1. Loved reading this! “recovering from a collective Sunday hangover.” and “Air pumps had to be ferried to and from groups,”gargantuan structure.” and “as big as an Eiffel Tower and twice the weight”

    Sounds lovely — “grass waving in the wind, all bathing in the pleasant sunlight. ”

    Living vicariously through the trip! Great job, Peter!

  2. I could feel the headwind…and the flat tire frustration. Nice write-up Peter. Amazing experience.

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