According to traffic commissioner Melanie van der Horst, recent tests have revealed “results that can be considered critical to safety” and for which a solution had to be found before the tunnel could be reopened. Van der Horst writes to the city council that this can no longer be resolved until next Friday.
A lot of work is being done, among other things, to correctly regulate the automatic closing of the escape doors and to improve the quality of the images from the tunnel cameras on the screens of the traffic control center on Dijksgracht.
It is not clear why it is not possible to give an exact date for the completion of the tunnel. Van der Horst writes that he has sufficient faith that the problems can be solved in the short term, “or that an alternative will be found”.
It’s not the first time Piet Hein’s tunnel renovation has been delayed. when started in June 2021 with the works, the municipality still speculated that it could be used again last summer. In March however, it was announced that work would continue until 2 Decemberbut that too proved impossible.
The renovation took a long time as there was a lot of work to be done. Outdated technical installations were replaced and escape routes, water drainage, fire alarm systems, driveways and camera systems were also addressed. In addition, the tunnel received a new operating system, which had to be tested extensively before it could be used.
Only a quarter of a century
The works of the Piet Hein tunnel are surprising because they concern a relatively young structure: the car tunnel went into operation in 1997 and has therefore only been in use for a quarter of a century. Fire safety is the main reason for closing the tunnel. After a series of deadly tunnel fires in Austria, stricter safety requirements are in place requiring major adjustments by the Amsterdam tunnel operators.
The concrete construction of the tunnel is still in place, but all (nearly) fifty electrical systems had to be completely replaced. This concerns lighting, cameras, signal crosses, escape route signs and loudspeakers with which instructions are given in an emergency. The steel doors to the escape corridor also had to be renewed.
For motorists, an extension of the work means that they will also have to make detours in the coming weeks and have to contend with persistent delays and traffic jams. The official detours mapped out by the municipality go through the IJtunnel and Gooiseweg/Wibautstraat. But the Amsterdamsebrug, which carries road traffic via the Amsterdam-Rhine canal via the Indische Buurt, was also heavily used during the renovation period and caused many delays for motorists.
This also means keeping the Piet Hein tunnel closed longer other construction projects in a pinch: the tunnel renovation is causing such a disruption in traffic flow across the eastern half of the city that a number of projects it may not start until the Piet Hein tunnel is opened again.
Ambulances on the cycle path
Among other things, the GVB’s activities on the Mauritskade are suffering from the continuing problems with the tunnel. Consequently, emergency measures must be taken. The Mauritskade is part of the Piet Hein tunnel diversion route: according to the schedule, the rails could be replaced there from 5 to 16 December. These works will continue but have been adapted: one direction of travel will be blocked for motorists, the other direction of travel will remain open. To ensure that ambulances can reach the OLVG from an easterly direction, they can – if necessary – use the cycle path in the opposite direction.