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.

22 thoughts on “10-lane facepalm”

  1. I’m nobody though, because I read it the same way. I was flabbergasted in how blinded by the growth-paradigm they all are. Like it’s a given, or a requirement, even, that stuff always needs to grow and grow and grow and expand and so on. Where’s the modesty?

  2. It all comes down to a total lack of sense of reality and not being able to create a clear picture of the future = the non-sustainability of the current way of living in every aspect.

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Ever since we got this government I’m annoyed at the fact that the speed limits on our highways are even an issue and time is being spent on that. Don’t they have anything better to spend their time on?

  4. Indeed, I agree with Michele. Our politicians have no clue about future developments and the way to deal with them now. Growth focus is killing for a small country like ours, we actually should shrink, that is: organize our country in a better way and for instance, concentrate on ways to decrease the amount of movements people have to make. That can probably be done at low costs and therefor large savings for the long term.

  5. I can see the issues with what in the UK is called “predict and provide”, which takes no account of practical limits to say, traffic growth. However, surely talk of “non-sustainable” lifestyles is surely the same attitude, but in reverse?

  6. So glad to see I’m not the only one who was totally perplexed this morning. Al this fresh asphalt just lying there, quite useless, where before there were quiet “real Dutch” pastures! How can anyone think this was a sensible purpose for this huge amount of money. And why has someone decided that people with this kind of “ideas” deserve the power to make high-impact desisions like that. Yes we need a new country.

  7. Then again, the unmitigated traffic disaster that was the old A2 wasn’t sustainable either, and grand lofty plans to change the fabric of reality-as-we-know-it tend to be long term solutions that do nothing to fix the immediate mess of an overcrowded road in the here and now.

    So sometimes a bit of construction work is necessary, and then you might as well plan for possible futures and add a lane or two because they’d look very stupid if 10 years down the road (heh) they had to dig it all up again because the newly fixed road still hasn’t got the capacity to handle demand. Predicting stuff is hard, especially the future.

    So who knows, they might even be right. Having the whole 130 debate NOW though is deeply silly as there’s much more pressing issues that need attention. Really, come back and argue the point after you’ve fixed the economy and the various crumbling social structures.

  8. I have good news, turns out your country is a democracy! This means you can actually get up and change things. No need to be just like everyone else in the country and just whine about everything, without getting your lazy ass from behind your computer.

    In other words; don’t blog about it, be about it.

  9. Now you listen Kid 🙂

    I’ve been “doing things about it” for the past 30 or so years. I think I’ve earned a slightly depressed sigh here or there. (I don’t see how blogging about something can’t be part of solving a problem.)

    The bandwidth for solutions that fit the current formal-political reality is simply too small. Much higher gains to be gotten from kicking the system from the outside at this time.

    But you’re welcome to disagree and be the one politician that’s not only about today’s headlines.

  10. ♬ It’s all about the money. I don’t think it’s funny.. to see us fade away… ♬

    And money ofcourse can not flow in the right direction without power, for which the illusion of democracy is a convenient tool since the amount of nonsense it allows you to forcefeed into society seems to be without bounds..

    Hang on in there Rop 🙂

  11. Rop, what planet do you live on?

    Haven’t you learnt yet to *not* put ten lanes to your face?

  12. Well, civil engineer in NL are used to design structure for EXTREMELY unlikely event… I guess that highway was designed for a “one in a thousand years” traffic jam 🙂

  13. My reaction was that the engineers only calculated on noise levels. Sure they must do that to make sure their decision does not cause too loud traffic.

    But when I think of going from 100 or 130 to 170 I’m thinking risk of accidents and increased fatalities.

  14. Hi Rop, Great to see you blogging again, keeps me motivated to see there are other people thinking like I do!

  15. You’re saying that if we for example need 4.1 lanes per direction for a predicted capacity, building the extra .9 lanes is a waste? How would you build .1 lane, 1/10th of the length or 1/10th of the width?

  16. Dag Rop,

    Ik wil je graag uitnodigen voor onze nacht van de dictatuur als spreker op 14 september. Is er een manier waarop ik je hier informatie over kan sturen? Als het goed is, heb je mijn e-mailadres.

    Bij voorbaat dank en met vriendelijke groet,

    David Muntslag

  17. A refreshing comment on our current national idiocy.

    Raising the speed limit started with the announcement end of June that speed controls would start within a month. Daily articles, complaints of readers and a lot of spin in the Dutch daily De Telegraaf shifted the discussion from speed control to raising the speed limit in just a few week’s time. The ‘freedom’ of the car driver and our mobility economy were at stake, but luckily a few thousand drivers/readers forced the minister on her knees. No one asked the 65,000 people who live in the area.

  18. I think the most offending thing for people is that the old smaller road had a limit of 120kmh and the much bigger and saver road now has a limit of 100kmh. Making it obvious that the Netherlands is ruled by thick headed bureaucrats looking at spreadsheets instead of reality.

    Mind you there are some legitimate reasons why the big roads have to grow. Many smaller roads are lowered in speed, downsized or closed, creating more pressure on the big roads. Also traffic is nowadays send to the big roads as soon as possible even when it’s way longer.
    The obvious reason is lower tolerance for noise and pollution, but also the big roads are maintained by the province instead of the municipalities, and as quieter roads are cheaper to maintain it creates a monetarily incentive for the municipalities.
    I don’t think it’s a bad development, because this transforms the road system from a mesh structure to a tree structure making it more efficient. Unfortunately the tree structure also means that peaks in traffic will be much higher so the big roads will have to accommodate that.

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