Update 02/04/22: The mayor of Rotterdam has told local media no decision has been made yet, and no permit request has been submitted. If a request is filed, it will make a decision based on a review of the potential impacts and whether Bezos would foot the bill, among other things.
A historic bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is to be dismantled so that Jeff Bezos' superyacht can pass through.
The Koningshaven Bridge, nicknamed "De Hef" by locals, has been a landmark in Rotterdam since 1878. Originally a swing bridge, it was converted into a lifting bridge after several ships got stuck in the narrow passage, and a collision involving the German ship Kandelfels in 1918. Having been damaged in the bombing of Rotterdam, it was one of the first monuments to be restored in the city shortly afterward.
Now, it is to be dismantled to let the Amazon founder's 127-meter (417-foot) long luxury sailing yacht – the Y721 – to reach the ocean. The yacht will be the largest vessel of its kind in the world, and will be unable to make it under De Hef when it is completed by the ship-making firm Oceanco. Despite promises that the bridge would not be dismantled again following renovations in 2014-2017, the middle section of the bridge will be temporarily removed to let the billionaire's boat out.
"It's the only route to the sea," a spokesperson for the mayor's office explained to AFP, adding that building the yacht created jobs, and that the bridge would once again be restored once the job was complete.
Project leader Marcel Walravens told Rijnmond News that it isn't practical to partially finish the ship before moving it elsewhere, negating the need to dismantle the bridge.
"If you are carrying out a large job somewhere, you want all your tools to be in that place," he said. "Otherwise you have to go back and forth constantly. In addition, this is such a large project that there are hardly any locations where this work [can be] completed."
The decision to dismantle the bridge, which is a national monument, has been met with concern from local green politicians, as well as historians.
"Employment is important, but there are limits to what you can and may do with our heritage," Ton Wesselink of the Roterodamum Historical Society told Rijnmond News.
“This man has earned his money by squeezing staff, evading taxes/regulations and now we have to tear down our beautiful national monument?" Dutch green councilor Stephan Leewis said. "That is really going a bridge too far."
The bridge is expected to be dismantled sometime in the summer, with the project manager estimating it will take about two weeks to dismantle and restore.