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Government urged to bridge €873m gap in highway maintenance

THE NETHERLANDS. The government has been urged to invest more in catching up with the maintenance of bridges, tunnels and waterways or risk economically damaging closures.

Works to repair crucial infrastructure such as motorway bridges are running behind schedule, infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen admitted in a letter to parliament last week. The estimated cost of clearing the backlog has risen to €873 mln, from €507 mln in 2016.

Construction and transport organisations including the ANWB and Bouwend Nederland have warned that the economic damage of closing a major connection such as the Moerdijkbrug could amount to €5 million per day.

The national audit office Algemene Rekenkamer has also urged the government to release more money to repair bridges and sluices. Maxime Verhagen, chairman of Bouwend Nederland, said the minister had failed to take advantage of the upcoming summer holiday period, when traffic is generally lighter, to catch up with the schedule.

‘The question is not if motorways will have to be closed unexpectedly, but when, with all the consequences that ensue,’ he said. The audit office warned last month that the backlog in maintenance of sluices and bridges ‘is more urgent than the impression given in the annual reports issued by the minister for Infrastructure and Waterways.’

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