10-lane facepalm

I need a new country. This one is lost. To illustrate this I’d like to translate an article about a major current political issue in the Netherlands for you. It’s about the maximum speed on a newly upgraded highway.

Speed on widened A2 highway can be raised to 170 km/h

Engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV says the maximum speed on the widened A2 highway between Amsterdam and Utrecht can be raised further. Only at 170 km/h are the existing noise-limits exceeded. This according to Trouw (longer article in Dutch).

The newspaper had the engineering company research the feasability of minister Melanie Schultz’s plan to raise the maximum speed to 130 km/h during evenings and nights. The raised speed would only apply between Vinkeveen and Maarssen between 19:00 and 06:00. Now the maximum speed for the A2 is 100 km/h.

The 10 lanes of the A2 have so little traffic running over them that raising the speed to anything under 170 km does not get up to the noise limits, according to Royal HaskoningDHV. The road was built for 230.000 vehicles a day in 2020, but there’s only 136.000 now. The expected growth in traffic is lagging, causing the expected number of 230.000 to be reached only in 2065.

In the maximum speed is raised to 130 km/h, noise will increase but only in 2030 do new sound barriers have to be placed, says Royal HaskoningDHV. Air pollution is already combatted by an extra screen at Breukelen, writes Novum press agency.

I’m not sure where to start. Mind you that I don’t need to agree with my government. What I would like is for them to be in the same reality. I guess this is partly about how extrapolation has become a really bad way of predicting the future, given how non-sustainable present trends are. The most misunderstood part of the very common word non-sustainable is that it means “no way this will continue”. Seriously: where do they hire people that predict the number of cars to be almost double that of today in 2065?

Given that the western part of the Netherlands is built on mud and does sometimes get frost in winter, highways like these are very expensive. I’d like to know who thought building this 10-lane highway right at peak-car was a good way to spend our money?

But by far the most depressing thing about this whole story is that nobody in this country seems to read this article the way I do. Everyone else is just bickering over whether or not to allow 130 km/h on this one piece of highway.

Which is, I kid you not, all of thirteen kilometers long.