Amsterdam: Kilometers of canal walls need urgent repairs

Amsterdam's city hall says that kilometers (miles) of walls along its world famous canals are crumbling and in urgent need of repair following years of neglect

AMSTERDAM -- Years of neglect combined with wear and tear from heavy trucks driving next to Amsterdam's famous canals have left kilometers (miles) of canal walls at risk of subsiding and in urgent need of repair, the city's municipality said Thursday.

A report commissioned by the city says that repairing infrastructure such as canal walls and bridges is "a complex, large and urgent" task.

Amsterdam Municipality, which is responsible for maintaining some 1,600 bridges, 600 kilometers (373 miles) of canal walls and five traffic tunnels, said the report found that 10 kilometers (six miles) of the walls are in very bad condition and at elevated risk of subsiding.

City councilor Sharon Dijksma said urgent action is needed.

"We have to be more careful with all the beautiful things this city has to offer. We owe that to residents and visitors to the city, but also to future generations," she said. "That's why we need to take action. That has not happened enough in recent years because maintenance is not a sexy subject, but it is essential for the city."

The city was addressing some of the problems even before the report's publication. Authorities have already closed or partially closed six bridges and taken emergency measures at some of the most vulnerable canal walls.

They also have closed part of the historic downtown to trucks weighing more than 7.5 tons and the city said in a statement it will develop a policy to deter more heavy traffic from its streets.