Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is Amsterdam ready for a new metro?

Amsterdammers are bracing themselves as the drilling of the metro tunnel in soft sandy layers under the historical heart of the city is due to begin today. At the flip of a switch the head of the drill will begin to turn and the first centimetres of earth will be removed, reports nrc.next. But don’t worry, as a precaution the ground above the first 90 metres has been frozen.
In the 1970s when the first metro line was laid in the Dutch capital, it was all much easier. The town council just demolished all the buildings above the line. They had to put up with a few riots first, mind you. Since then any plans to modernise the metropolitan’s transport system underground were put on hold. That was until a “magic drill” built metro lines in Japan and Germany. In the 1990s, the North-South line found its way back onto the municipal agenda and Amsterdammers voted in favour of the project in a referendum.
But it all went horribly wrong in 2008 when subsidence damaged a number of listed buildings close to the construction site. As a result, public confidence in the project is low. In the last local elections, anti-metro party Save Amsterdam won a seat on the local council. Residents along some parts of the line will be put up in hotels during construction work. Amsterdam’s best known department store De Bijenkorf tried to postpone the drilling until more research could be done.
However, in spite of all the risks and misgivings, drilling is going ahead. The builders of the North-South Line say they are confident nothing will go wrong. But just in case, they have had the drill blessed and a statue of Saint Barbara, patron saint of miners and tunnel diggers, guards the entrance to the tunnel shaft. So fingers crossed then! Not while biking!!!

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