Rotterdam Dismantling Historic Steel Bridge To Allow Jeff Bezos' New Yacht Through

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit
A yacht in a marina.
Unsplash | Francisco Gomes

Sometimes it really feels like it's Jeff Bezos's world, and we're just living in it. It's one big project after another for the former Amazon CEO, and this upcoming year is no exception.

Bezos has not only commissioned the construction of what will be the world's largest sailing yacht, but he's even made a deal with a Dutch city where they're agreeing to dismantle a historical monument in order to let that boat make it to sea.

Jeff Bezos has been building a boat.

A headshot of Jeff Bezos on a black background.
Getty | David Ryder

Well, the Dutch company Oceano has been building it, but they've been building it for Jeff Bezos.

The vessel is costing him a whopping estimated $500 million and is being constructed in the city of Alblasserdam. The ship, known as Y721, will be the world’s largest sailing yacht at 417 feet long.

There's one problem, though.

A river running through a city with buildings on either side.
Unsplash | Milad Alizadeh

Alblasserdam is not a coastal city, and this ship needs to make it to open waters. There are a network of canals and rivers leading from Alblasserdam to the North Sea, but there's one obstacle that would prevent Y721 from taking that path, and that's the historic Koningshaven Bridge in Rotterdam.

The bridge has a clearance of just over 131 feet.

A closeup side-view of a yacht on the water.
Unsplash | Herry Sutanto

Unfortunately for Bezos, his boat reaches much higher.

One of the options presented was to sail a half-built version of the yacht under the bridge and finish construction on the other side, but Bezos opted for the other, probably pricier option.

He struck a deal with Rotterdam and got them to agree to dismantle the bridge.

The historical lift bridge in Rotterdam.
Getty | Geography Photos

Part of it, anyway.

The bridge, locally known as De Hef, was built in 1927 as a railway bridge with a central portion that could be lifted to allow ships through. It was decommissioned in 1994 when replaced with a tunnel, then declared a national monument.

The bridge underwent one major restoration in 2014.

A skyline shot of Rotterdam.
Unsplash | Stephan

Once that was finished, the city said it would never be dismantled again. Yet, here we are.

Rotterdam municipal spokeswoman Frances van Heijst confirmed with Dutch broadcaster Rijnmond that the city would not be paying for this project. Instead, the cost will be coming out of both Bezos and Oceano's pockets. She has no guess regarding the cost at the moment as "a lot of details need to be worked out.”

Of course, there are concerns as well.

A shot of a marina in Rotterdam.
Unsplash | Peter Hall

Van Heijst claimed they did consider the pros and cons before agreeing to this arrangement. "On the one hand, [there is] the economic importance/employment due to the construction of this ship. On the other hand, our concern for De Hef," she said.

While head of a local history society, Ton Wesselink, said, "Jobs are important, but there are limits with what you can and should do with our industrial heritage."

As it stands, Y721 will be sailing through.

A yacht in a marina.
Unsplash | Francisco Gomes

The plan is for it to coast past the city sometime this summer, meaning the dismantling of the bridge will likely begin in the spring.

Marcel Walravens, a municipality official who works on issues related to the bridge, said he considers this removal to be "maintenance", as afterward it will be restored to its original form.

h/t: The Washington Post