The Veluwemeer Aqueduct and navigable aqueducts

One of my favourite pieces of engineering is the Veluwemeer Aqueduct located over Veluwemeer lake in Harderwijk, Netherlands. It opened in 2002 and bypasses the N302 road, connecting mainland Netherlands with Flevoland, the largest artificial island in the world.

Why is the Veluwemeer Aqueduct so special?

The Veluwemeer Aqueduct is known as a navigable aqueduct or ‘water bridge’ and its uniqueness comes from its configuration. Most people think bridges and roads go over water but what makes the Veluwemeer Aqueduct so awesome is that the water goes over the road. Every time I see a photo, it looks like an optical illusion but it’s simply incredible engineering.

Unlike drawbridges or other roadway structures, the water bridge design allows for constant traffic flow both on the road and over the aqueduct.

For most of the span of the N302 road across the lake, the road is raised above the waterline by a stretch of artificial embankments, but for the short, 55.7 feet (17 m) span on the aqueduct, the road plunges, briefly, underneath the lake’s surface. 

Interestingly, around 1,3212 feet (400 m) NW of the aqueduct, the N302 crosses the lake once again on a more traditional bridge structure.

via IE

Other notable navigable aqueducts

There are navigable aqueducts all around the world (with a few more in the Netherlands). Here are some of the most notable (from the past and present):

UK

  • The Holmes Aqueduct in Derby was the world’s first navigable cast iron aqueduct, built in the late 18th century.
  • The Barton Swing Aqueduct in Manchester is also includes a swing bridge. Talk about multi-tasking!
  • The Longdon-on-Tern Aqueduct in Shrewsbury was built just after The Holmes Aqueduct but has the distinction of being the first large-scale navigable cast iron aqueduct.
  • The oldest navigable cast-iron aqueduct that still works is the Stakes Aqueduct in Stalybridge.
  • The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in north Wales.
  • The Slateford Aqueduct, Almond Aqueduct, and Avon Aqueduct (second largest in the UK) are all in the Union Canal in Scotland.

Mainland Europe

  • The Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world at 0.6 miles or 0.97km.
  • The Agen aqueduct in France.
  • The Briare aqueduct in France, formerly the longest canal aqueduct in the world.
  • The Ringvaart aqueduct in the Netherlands.
  • The Gouwe aqueduct in the Netherlands.
  • The Krabbersgat naviduct in the Netherlands is the only aqueduct in the world that also operates as a lock.
  • The Håverud Aqueduct in Sweden

Asia

  • The Dokka Seethamma in India
  • The Mathur Aqueduct in India

North America

  • The Allegheny Aqueduct in Pittsburgh
  • The Broad Street Aqueduct in New York, now a road bridge
  • The Seneca Aqueduct in Maryland, which is also a naviduct
Categories: Engineering

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