Volkerakdam (1957-1969)

The Volkerakdam is the fifth project of the Delta Works. It is a secondary dam, intended to make primary dams such as the Oosterscheldekering, Brouwersdam and Haringvlietdam possible. The Volkerakdam looks like a tripod from above: a solid dam from Goeree-Overflakkee to Hellegatsplein, a dam with locks from Hellegatsplein to Noord-Brabant and a bridge from Hellegatsplein to Hoekse Waard. The dam separates three bodies of water from each other: the Hollandsch Diep, the Haringvliet and the Volkerak.

This extensive project starts in 1957. First of all, a 4.5 kilometer long dam is constructed from Goeree-Overflakkee to Hellegatsplein. The method for this is simple: keep spraying sand onto it until the gap is completely closed off. Four kilometers of the dam is then tarmacked, the remaining  500 meters consists of sand and will later be added to the Hellegatsplein.


The second leg of the Volkerakdam – from the Hellegatsplein to Noord-Brabant – is a solid dam, made up of 14 caissons, in combination with locks. Through the locks, shipping between Rotterdam and Antwerp remains possible, even during the installation of the caissons for the solid dam.

Placing the caissons is precision work. The caissons are taken to the right place and are sunk at the exact moment the flow rate is at its lowest. The caissons also have to ‘click’ into each other and this is done by maneuvering  one caisson diagonally into the other one and then, just before the tide turns, straightening it and sinking it –  a work of art.

In order to prevent the soil from washing away under caissons, a threshold is created, just like in the Veerse Gatdam, upon which the caissons are placed. When placing the caissons, a fleet of 7 tugboats – good for a total of 7100 hp – is used. Once the dam is closed, three enormous sand dredgers go to work to cover the caisson dam with sand.



The third leg of the Volkerakdam project is the construction of a bridge from the Hellegatsplein to the Hoekse Waard: the Haringvliet bridge. The commissioning of the bridge in 1964 means that it is now possible to drive from Zeeland to Zuid-Holland and the west of Noord-Brabant. Before 1964 people who live around the Volkerak can only visit each other by boat.

The construction of the Volkerakdam and the construction of the Haringvliet bridge spectacularly reduce travel times from Zeeland to Zuid-Holland. Residents of Schouwen-Duiveland can now drive via the Grevelingendam, Volkerakdam and Haringvlietbrug to Rotterdam and are no longer dependent on ferry services.