News - April 24, 2020

Ring road a step closer

Roelof Kleis

A ring road seems the best solution for the traffic congestion on the campus, shows a recently published environmental impact analysis.

Establishing a route across or around the edges of the campus could be the best way to absorb the extra traffic expected between the campus and the motorway, even in the relatively near future (2030). It would make commutes in the rush hour less than half as long again as those in off-peak hours. For the provincial government, this norm for commuting time is a strict criterion for traffic congestion.

The alternative to a new ring road, improving the Mansholtlaan and the Nijenoord Allee, would not meet that norm.  Along this route, traffic heading towards the motorway would still be held up during the evening rush hour. And traffic experts see a few other significant disadvantages to upgrading the existing route. One is that traffic would have few escape routes in an emergency. A new campus route would provide that flexibility.

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A second disadvantage of the existing route is that it would not really benefit cyclists going to and from the campus. Without a new ring road, it will continue to be difficult to cross the Nijenoord Allee, especially at the junction with the Churchillweg. But a campus route is not perfect in that respect either. If traffic increases by another 10 percent after 2030, commuting times in the evening rush hour still won’t meet the norm.

Six variants of a route around the campus have been considered. The most promising are three routes with a speed limit of 80 km per hour. The three differ in the route they take through the Dassenbos wood and in how they intersect with the Nijenoord Allee. The cheapest option is a road that cuts through the Dassenbos, leading to the Nijenoord Allee between Rikilt and the Dijkgraaf block of flats. This would cost 22 million euros.

Sacrificing nature
The environmental impact (the MER, in Dutch) outlines the implications for the environment. A campus route scores badly in this respect. A new ring road means new asphalt, thereby sacrificing nature and landscape. But many of the negative consequences will be compensated for by creating new nature areas. And a campus route has one point in its favour: it would reduce noise pollution by spreading the traffic.

The provincial executive will announce their preferred solution this summer. Stakeholders such as local residents and nature organizations now have the chance to make their views known. The ultimate decision is in the hands of the provincial politicians. Road-building will start in 2023 at the earliest..