Rotterdam may dismantle part of historic bridge for Jeff Bezos' superyacht

Jeff Bezos (left) will pay for the iconic Koningshaven Bridge (right) to be dismantled to allow his 40m-high yacht to reach the sea. PHOTOS: AFP

ROTTERDAM (NYTIMES) - The Dutch city of Rotterdam on Thursday (Feb 3) walked back plans to dismantle part of the historic Koningshaven Bridge so that a superyacht built for Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos could pass through the city's river, saying that a decision had not yet been made.

This week, city officials had told the news media that Rotterdam had agreed to briefly dismantle the middle section of the 95-year-old bridge for the yacht's passage this summer.

But Thursday evening, officials said in another statement that the city had not yet approved the plan, although it had received a request from the shipbuilder to temporarily lift the middle part of the bridge.

The city's statement said the full cost of the dismantling, if approved, would be covered by the shipbuilder. The bridge, known locally as "De Hef", would be restored immediately afterwards.

A city spokeswoman had said that she did not have an estimate of how much the deconstruction would cost. The city statement said that officials would assess the environmental and economic effects of the plans.

A representative for Amazon did not respond to requests for comment about the cost or the yacht's destination. A spokesperson for Oceanco, the Dutch custom yacht company that is building the boat, said in an email that she could not comment on projects under construction or clients because of confidentiality reasons.

Boat International, which publishes articles about the superyacht industry, reported that the 417-foot (127 metres) sailboat is set to become the largest sailing yacht in the world when it is finished later this year.

The superyacht that Mr Bezos commissioned is likely to cost more than US$500 million (S$672 million) to build, Bloomberg reported. Mr Bezos is the world's second-richest person, after Tesla's CEO Elon Musk.

The bridge, which has a boat clearance of 130 feet (40 metres), is not currently in use.

Mr Dennis Tak, a Labour Party city councillor for Rotterdam, said he was fine with the bridge being dismantled - since the city would not be paying for it - because of the jobs the process would create.

"As a city, this is a great way to take some of his money," Mr Tak said.

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