Construction of a circular bridge

We want to develop our infrastructure together with parties in the market in such a way that all resources and raw materials are reusable, and we no longer have to use fossil fuels. That is why we built a 100% circular bridge that is made up of concrete elements that will stay undamaged and are thus suitable for reuse.

During the construction of the circular bridge we also started an open learning environment, for us and others to learn lessons.

First circular bridge in the Netherlands

Together with partners from the Netherlands we built the first concrete circular bridge in the Netherlands. The bridge was tested between December 2018 and September 2019 by construction traffic for the Reevesluis project.

The bridge is circular. In other words: there is no waste, reuse requires no new raw materials and used raw materials are put to new use in the most high-value way possible. This is the first concrete bridge in the Netherlands to was built in this way.

Circular construction together with partners

For this project we also found a new way of working in a partnership. In order to take circular innovation to the next level, Rijkswaterstaat wants to be more closely involved with the development of this. So, in this project, we worked closely together with the builders and suppliers from the start. Partnership is needed throughout the supply chain in order to make the whole process of circular construction possible.

Video: how we built the circular bridge

In the video you can see how the prototype was constructed and tested.

Circular bridge Beam composed of precast elements. The first bridge deck made of circular concrete elements. You can widen it, extend it or disassemble it and rebuild it elsewhere. Thanks to the close cooperation between Rijkswaterstaat, contractor Van Hattum & Blankevoort and precast concrete supplier Consolis Spanbeton, this dream has become a reality. The prototype of this first circular bridge is being tested at the construction site of the Reevesluis (Reeve Lock) nearby Kampen. The viaduct is made up of 40 circular precast concrete elements. The production of each precast element takes about 24 hours. These elements are equipped with so-called shear-keys to ensure that they fit together well and can be dismantled. Each element has a hollow space through which elastic, steel cables (tendons) are drawn. The elements are connected to each other by tensioning the steel cables. The steel cables and elements can be easily disassembled and then reused. This prototype consists of equal beams that are each created by linking together 8 elements lengthwise. Five of these prefabricated beams lined up side by side make up a bridge that is 20 metres long and 7.5 metres wide. The beams are carried by specialised transport to the construction site nearby Kampen. Within 1 day, we position the 5 beams on a steel foundation. We connect them to each other on location and apply the necessary safety provisions. Measurement sensors record movements in the bridge deck up to 0.1 mm when construction traffic is using the bridge. Tension in the steel cables is also measured. This way we learn about the performance of the circular bridge. To achieve a circular economy, we need to collaborate. So, we have created a learning environment and share our knowledge. This means that other parties will soon be able to implement circular viaducts as well. Together we ensure the high-value reuse of materials. More information? Please visit: (Dutch) Rijkswaterstaat Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management Produced by Rijkswaterstaat © 2019

Insights and lessons

In this project we experimented with new techniques and a new way of working together. The idea of the Open Learning Environment arose during the development of the bridge. The Open Learning Environment was a forum in which 60 participants from the various market parties, government agencies and research institutes shared know-how and experiences about circular construction of bridges.

The experiences gained in building the first circular bridge and using the Open Learning Environment have been shared publicly and are used to move the development of circular bridges further, together with the market parties. Rijkswaterstaat does that with the Strategic Business Innovation Research (SBIR) procurement and funding method. Together, we make sure that we can reuse raw materials in a high-value way.

See also