Enhancing the Maastricht shipping lane

Peak river flows create dangerous situations for ships entering and leaving the Juliana Canal. In response, Rijkswaterstaat is expanding the entrance to the Juliana Canal.

As it stands, the shipping lane through Maastricht is still unsafe for larger vessels to navigate during peak flows. This applies to class Vb vessels with a length of 170 to 195 m, a width of 11.4 m and a depth of 3.5 m.

A higher flow rate of the Meuse River creates a dangerous situation when these ships enter and exit the Juliana Canal.

For such vessels, the water pushed ahead of the bow subsequently flows alongside and beneath the ship. The Meuse, a fast-flowing, deep waterway in the south of the Netherlands, contrasts with the calmer, shallower waters of the Juliana Canal.

This transition changes the water flow and consequently the ship’s pressure distribution in the water, increasing the risk of sinking. In addition, the strong current of the Meuse, combined with the winding waterway through Maastricht, makes the Juliana Canal difficult to navigate.

Rijkswaterstaat’s plan for a reliable, year-round passage

To mitigate these risks, Rijkswaterstaat is expanding the entrance of the Juliana Canal, giving vessels more space. It will also allow larger vessels to enter and exit the Juliana Canal safely, even during peak periods.

As there will no longer be room for class Vb ships to pass each other between St. Pieter and Itteren in Maastricht, Rijkswaterstaat is creating a passing section in the waterway.

Without these adjustments to the entrance to the Juliana Canal, the route on the Meuse between Limmel and Ternaaien would be unnavigable during peak periods, approximately two months a year. To make the most of the Meuse as a key European waterway, it must offer a reliable year-round passage along its entire length.

Collaboration with regional partners

In addition to optimising the waterway, Rijkswaterstaat is also exploring the possibility of collaborating with regional partners to further promote transnational partnerships and seize other opportunities.

Project period

Planning fase: 2021 - 2025

Realisation fase: 2026 onwards

European Programme



Limburg Water AuthorityMunicipality of MaastrichtProvince of Limburg