Major maintenance on the Maarssen Bridge: pulling out all the stops to meet deadlines

A real rush job means Van der Ende Straal- en Schilderwerken has been breaking records.

Van der Ende Straal- en Schilderwerken is putting the finishing touches to a project that is the rush job to end them all. “What we are doing now to preserve the metal at the Maarssen Bridge really is a tough job to pull off,” reckons project leader Harry Boogert. “Initially we had a year to do it. When the contract was signed, Rijkswaterstaat (the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management) were talking 161 days. That was already pretty tight. Now we have to be ready within 121 days…”

Standing under the bridge, Boogert tells more about how the project came about. Jointly with Ballast Nedam, they submitted a bid for major maintenance of the bridge at Maarssen. “In fact, we needed each other. We could only meet the stringent conditions in the criteria for awarding the work jointly with Ballast Nedam,” says the project leader. “During the tender, price and efficiency were the main things for Rijkswaterstaat. But I think that having worked successfully for them several times before may also have been an advantage for us. We already knew that the job would not be given a year’s time, but 161 days instead. It took a few weeks of tough calculations before we could put a price on the table. I mean, we always work fast, but these timescales really beat everything.”

The Maarssen Bridge Project really became a pièce de résistance after the deal had been closed. Ballast Nedam and Van der Ende Straal- en Schilderwerken managed to win the order on turnaround time, combined with a favourable price.

“A couple of days later, Rijkswaterstaat asked us to cut another forty days off the delivery date. To be honest, I’m not sure that ‘ask’ is the right word here,” says Boogert, thinking about it. You have to realise what a huge amount of traffic crosses that bridge. Not just people who live in the area, but also business traffic from the industrial site next to it. It created pressure on Rijkswaterstaat. We gave ourselves a week to sketch an outline of the costs for speeding the work up and then we just said ‘yes’.”

There threat of fines hung over the company if both bridge lanes were not open by 1 September and the work was not concluded by 25 October. “Cooperation with ten or so other companies was crucial from the beginning,” says the project leader. “Right from the point when the bridge was raised by about one metre on 5, 6 and 7 May. The working platform hanging under the bridge gave shipping traffic the same headroom, while we ourselves could start sand-blasting and preserving. We met the 1 September deadline, which was a minor miracle. We worked from seven in the morning to ten at night, seven days a week. But the heavy rains after the heatwave caused a lot of trouble. That cost us two weeks extra. We’re confident about meeting the 25 October deadline, though.”