The first two-storey tunnel is being developed in Maastricht
At its deepest point, it is 22 metres deep and at others it is 17 metres deep. In approximately six years, the traffic of the A2 motorway will flow through the tunnel on two storeys. This is supposed to relieve the city from some traffic.
Approximately eighty percent of the entire traffic volume is supposed to flow underground. At the moment, you will hit a traffic jam when you come from the North and want to continue to the South towards Liege. When traffic is flowing, you need approximately thirty minutes, but currently you have to calculate a lot more time.
The planners say that in future you will pass the city in three minutes through the tunnel. The upper tunnel contains the innercity traffic and the lower tunnel the through-going traffic. The tunnel between the junctions De Geusselt and Europaplein will be 2.3 km long. For almost thirty years, Maastricht has been fighting for this tunnel. Most people had lost faith that the tunnel could ever be built. However, now the construction is one of the exemplary projects of the Dutch province of Limburg.
The surface of the tunnel, which is currently still swamped in exhaust fumes, is supposed to be turned into a beautiful avenue. The project is known as “de groene loper” (“the green walkway”). In the future, this will be the realm of pedestrians and cyclists.
The costs, just for the tunneling: Approximately €500 million. The city is supposed to belong to the people of Maastricht and the visitors again. The motorway which cuts straight through the city is currently a horrid eyesore and causes plenty of issues. Dirt, exhaust fumes, traffic jams and also a danger to the safety of locals and visitors, who regularly have to cross over this traffic axis, are only some of the disadvantages, as Desiree Florie, spokeswoman for the project office Avenue A2, points out. The new avenue will be approximately four kilometers long.
Two thousand new trees are supposed to be planted. The team building the tunnel is international and derives from almost all countries in Europe. There are a lot of German and Irish companies involved and there even is a woman on the site! Everybody was surprised by the interest of the locals towards the construction.
From the beginning, the urban planners involved the locals of Maastricht closely into the planning. There is a special, purpose-built, visitor information centre, which informs about the progress of the construction and is open to the public for free.
Among other features, you can see the latest films about the project. At the construction site itself, there are several visitor platforms. “We even have some real fans now”, Desiree Florie points out. One of the visitors, for example, comes by every day and gets the latest information. The project is financed by the Rijkswaterstraat, a division of the Dutch Department for Transport, the province of Limburg, the city of Maastricht, the municipality of Meersen and the European Union.