Launched in 1932, the Afsluitdijk, which runs from Den Oever in North Holland province of the Netherlands to the village of Kornwerderzand in Friesland province, has protected large parts of the Netherlands for generations against flooding from the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer freshwater lake.

But after more than 85 years in service, the 32 km dam no longer met current requirements for flood protection and water discharge and requires major reconstruction. The ever-present danger which water poses to the Netherlands and the global increase in extreme weather means it is essential that the Afsluitdijk is upgraded to be able to withstand these twin problems.

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The innovation

As part of the project, Europe’s largest pumping station will be built within the dam to ensure it can disperse large volumes of water, with the excess being drained from the IJsselmeer into the Wadden Sea.

The causeway on the Wadden Sea surface is raised and reinforced with new facing and 75,000 Levvel blocks, one of the most innovative elements of the Afsluitdijk project. The blocks, globally known as Xbloc+, were developed specially for the project by BAM Infraconsult. Each weighing about 6,500 kg, they are extremely strong, have a wave retardant effect and are relatively easy to install.

A specially-designed clamp makes placement fast, accurate and safe with no people required to grab and release them during the process. Around 100 blocks will be produced each day in the port of Harlingen, transported by ship to the causeway and installed by pontoon crane.

Drainage sluices at Den Oever will be expanded with new sluices built on the island sections between the existing sluices. This will allow more of the water that enters the IJsselmeer from the River IJssel to be discharged into the Wadden Sea, without the use of energy.

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Johan Vergeer
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Paula van der Veen
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The experts

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« The Afsluitdijk project is an extremely significant project which will create a number of benefits for the area. It will further enhance the safety of a large part of the Netherlands which is clearly the number one priority. However, the innovative approach which the team is taking means that the spin-offs in terms of the local environment and the area’s tourist appeal are also considerable. » Project Director Johan Vergeer

"The Afsluitdijk project will further enhance the safety of a large part of the Netherlands"


Design and construction

The solution

As well as enhancing the dam’s pivotal role as a protective barrier against the sea and as a road link between two provinces, the New Afsluitdijk project will also have important tourist spin-offs. To improve visitor facilities, a new cycle path will be installed along the full length of the dam.

At Kornwerderzand, there will also be a new walking trail which allows access to the fish migration river. In addition, the safety of the A7 motorway which serves the area will be enhanced by widening the road’s emergency lanes with a new type of guard rail used for the first time on a Dutch project.

Construction of the original Afsluitdijk was extremely labour intensive with around 5,000 workers positioning the dam’s basalt blocks one by one. The new structure will also make a major contribution to the local economy, creating employment for approximately 600 people, around 100 of whom will be jobseekers with previously limited employment options.

jobs created
years project duration
Invesis (46%), Van Oord Aberdeen Infrastructure (46%), Rebel (8%)

Sponsor investor

Invesis pink arc