Een kunstwerk onder de Nieuwe Maas
The tunnel below the river the Nieuwe Maas not only is a civil-technical achievement. Connecting both banks of the Maas the tunnel is an element to improve the coherence in Rotterdam's urban conglomerate of centre, harbours and housing areas. As Holland's first tunnel below water-level (1937-'42) this tunnel moreover has to be seen as a technical object of prestige.
To improve contact between the town- and harbour developments on the left bank with the mother town on the right side ir. L. W. H. van Dijk , director of Municipal Works in 1929 proposed to lay out a tunnel in the line Park-Charlois. Joining the network of thoroughfares this tracé would ameliorate interlocal connection to the south as well. This solution at first being furnished in 1854 the idea of a tunnel had continually been rejected because of doubts on technical realizableness.
The tunnel also was subject of discussion among municipality and the State Department of Buildings and Roads, which had planned a bridge to the east of the town at Stormpolder. In 1933 the Department however accepted the Burgomaster and Aldermen's proposal to lay out a junction in the line Park-Charlois serving urban and interlocal traffic, the bridge at Stormpolder being mainly of regional importance.
Still in 1935 Minister dr. H.Colijn demanded the institution of a committee to explore the design, costs and usefulness of both plans which had to be worked out in detail. After many sessions of the town council and requests to the Government with respect to financing in 1937 the State finally agreed with the tunnel-plan which had been extended with space to traffic by pedestrians and cyclists.
Knowledge had to be acquired before one could start building. Representatives of Municipal Works undertook study tours to the United States, Great Britain and Germany. Because of the condition of the soil, the sink-method of sinking concrete tubes next to one another into a firm dry-dock proved to be the most suitable. The Municipal Technical Service advised the construction of a four-laned tunnel with bugger-squares to separate in- and out-coming traffic. In many ways, the first car-tunnel, the Holland-tunnel in New York, served as an example.
The Maas-tunnel consists of three parts: one river-part and two instalments on land, which parts have been connected by the foundations of the ventilation-buildings on caissons. Next to these buildings an entrance building destined for pedestrians and cyclists and a garage are built on each side of the river. The traverse of the Maas-tunnel meets local as well as interlocal traffic.
During the period of the Rebuilding the metro project was presented (1960-'68). This metro-line also contains a tunnel below the Nieuwe Maas. Within the framework of the new network of thoroughfares surrounding Rotterdam the Beneluxtunnel (1967) has been constructed to the west of the Maas-tunnel. Local and interlocal junctions of the banks are being adapted. Nevertheless, the Maas-tunnel still is an important link in the urban network as well as an example of how to construct these sort of tunnels like this was the case at the Y-tunnel of Amsterdam.