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The A2 motorway no longer divides Maastricht (bicycledutch.wordpress.com)
229 points by sgwil 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments

My hometown! Cool to see it on HN.

Maastricht uses to be the only traffic lights on route from Amsterdam to Paris. Yes. Traffic lights on a highway, in the middle of a city. As if the highway in the middle of a city wasn't annoyinh enough the traffic lights added some extra noise, fumes and pollution.

The new tunnel has been the most magnificent change I've ever seen. And IIRC the entire project was within budget and time.

>>Maastricht uses to be the only traffic lights on route from Amsterdam to Paris. Yes. Traffic lights on a highway, in the middle of a city

Sounds like the beautiful little town of Bad Oeynhausen, which I came to loathe(a bit) - I used to drive several times a year from Amsterdam to Krakow(~1300km) and literally the moment you got off the ferry in Amsterdam you were on the motorway literally all the way to Krakow.....except for having to drive through the very city centre of Bad Oeynhausen, every single time. I think last time I did that trip last year there were some intensive roadworks in that area, maybe nowadays there is a way to drive around the town without getting off the autobahn.

After decades the road work has been finished and the missing link between Autobahn 2 and Autobahn 30 is finally in place.

It leads you around the town and it saves at least 20 minutes.

Yeah, I'm looking at google maps now and it looks like you can just stay on the A30, drive around the entire town, and just take the exit to A2 - amazing. Almost a shame I'm not planning a trip anytime soon to experience it hahaha

Reminds me of Luik/Liege in Belgium just across the border form Maastricht. It's far worse there especially when you look at how poor the construction is there and how high the pollution seems to be. You can see that city has suffered immensely economically.

The journey through Maastricht over the highway generally wasn't all that bad, traffic would generally flow remarkably well. I think the primary concerns to put a tunnel in was pollution, noise and congestation.

>" It's far worse there especially when you look at how poor the construction is there and how high the pollution seems to be. You can see that city has suffered immensely economically."

Interesting. I found Liege to be a charming little city. The Calatrava train station is one of the most interesting stations in Europe in my opinion. The bike path along the river is quite nice as well. I didn't perceive the town was suffering economically. Would you mind elaborating? Genuinely curious.

Yeah as someone who travels through all three, Luik / Liège definitely eats the cake. Not only is it slow, it’s also difficult to navigate if you’re not familiar with the area.

Maastricht was always mostly pleasant, and Bad Oeyenhaus I typically use as an excuse to take a break at one of the McDonalds there.

Oh, I was so happy this year that the highway around was finally opened. I thought I'd forever have to go through that town and pass Hans Wurst.

Wow, that brings back memories. I travelled that road twice a week, most weeks, for about 2 years. I had almost blocked this from my memory!

That said, I think there was a KFC and a McDonalds there pretty much just off the road that you can stop at which was just about the right time when my bladder ran out of mileage.

It was nice to slow down and stop somewhere other than a motorway service station!

>Bad Oeynhausen

Town name checks out?

Bad means spa.

Isn't it more literally 'bath'? I thought the English word came from it.

Yes, but as a town prefix it means that they've got medicinal springs. I think that's called spa, isn't it?

Yes, more precisely the town needs to have a medical spa ("Heilbad" in German) [1].

Which can be a medicinal spring, but also other potentially beneficial effects [2], there are towns on the sea, which have the prefix "Seeheilbad" [3], which is purely based on the positive climatic effect of the nearby sea.

And then, this is Germany after all, there is a long list of other boxes that need to be ticked, see [4].

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_(Kurort)

[2] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heilbad

[3] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heiligendamm

[4] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seeheilbad

Yes, that's indeed true. The English city of Bath, home of the famous Roman baths, is also known as "Bath Spa". Glad we've cleared this up :|

Not a German speaker, but is baden the plural form then? I feel sometimes spa towns have baden in the name and others are just "bad."

The plural would be "Bäder", but I'm not aware of any town using that plural form. It would be very strange, too, because a town is a single entity.

Baden-Baden is the only one I know that comes close, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden-Baden#Name explains how it got that name. It's not the spa prefix, but part of the name proper.

Also, "Baden" is a region in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg that probably has lent its name to other towns.

It is home to one of the two big dialect families in Baden-Würrtemberg: Badisch, the other being Schwäbisch/Swabian.

Well there's also Wiesbaden in Germany, which is pretty well known. There are some others as well closer to the Czech republic.

From your link:

"In modern German, Baden is a noun meaning "bathing"[4] but Baden, the original name of the town, derives from an earlier plural form of Bad ("bath")"

I crossed the parky boulevard on top the other day. I had to double take because I've never driven in Maastricht, but I recognized the flats and didn't know why I would recognize them in the middle of the city I'd never been in. Until I realized I recognized them from the times the A2 went straight through!

Google streetview has images taken last year and 2009, so you can see the diff yourself.

In Google satellite view, there appears to be a railway about 400 meters west which similarly divides the city. Will that be buried as well?

No it doesn't for a few reasons.

One is that most rail traffic doesn't continu 24/7. A train comes by, the crossings open again and it's anormal road for 15 minutes until the next train.

Cars just run constantly. Cars also have exhausts that blast fumes in your face.

Furthermore the rails are usually 2 or 3 tracks next to each other outside the station. That's 20 meter or so vs a whopping 50m+ for a highway.

> Cars also have exhausts that blast fumes in your face

Yeah I never noticed this as much as the small city where I live now. Both bus stops (near home and near work) are next to a busy road, which is one thing, but one is also right before a traffic light, so lots of accelerating traffic. (The other one is right after, which is much better already.) I regularly hold my breath for a few seconds as a particularly bad cloud (invisibly) passes over me.

I sometimes wonder if, instead of speed limits, we need acceleration limits. Or just emission limits. Accelerate to highway speed in 50 seconds instead of in 20: so long as you're not in traffic that goes from 0 to 100 km/h every two minutes, it should hardly matter for your arrival time. Yet most of the time when I accelerate at a reasonable (not slow) speed onto the (uphill-going) highway, the person behind me thinks they should go alongside to accelerate 5% faster and lock me into the merging lane that is by now running out of space. Must spend 80% more CO2 for 20 seconds to arrive 4 seconds faster at the destination!

Nearly every sizable European city has a through railway, it is super common here. They are rarely any obstacle.

No: they are often obstacles, but they've been obstacles since the 19th century, so we have adapted the city and forgotten.

They are often lesser obstacles, since they were built when all other traffic was on foot or by horse, and routes for people had to be maintained. Some motorways were built without this consideration, in the period of 20th century motorcar idealism.

There are more level-crossings, which are less of an impediment since traffic is much less constant on railways. Similarly, there tend to be a lot of under and over passes. These are generally easier since railways are less wide than roads.

As such, railways are less of a dividing barrier.

For the section of rail parallel to the tunnel, there is only one grade crossing at Sphinxlunet and one foot crossing in the station. While it is hard to see from satellite view after the tunnel is built, there were likely more crossings at the aforementioned stop lights on A2. Width of right-of-ways is not too important if there is no way to get across the narrower one either.

Most likely the tunnel is really due two conflicting desires - wanting to remove stoplights from the A2 to expedited the flow of through traffic while not wanting to route A2 around the city's east perimeter where there is ample open land. Usually the city retailers and other businesses want to keep the central routing to prevent the development of competing business centers along perimeter highways.

With the removal of level crossings (not always replaced with an over or underpass) to make the route suitable for higher-speed trains, railway lines are becoming more of a barrier. But they're still narrower than motorways.

>Maastricht uses to be the only traffic lights on route from Amsterdam to Paris.

I know Belgian traffic can be hell but going through Maastricht on the way from Amsterdam to Paris would be quite the detour :)

According to Google Maps it's only 30 minutes longer to go through Maastricht, so it's not that far of a stretch to imagine that some people use it.

Exactly and if you're going to be on the ring of Antwerp, or god forbid, the ring of Brussel during rush hour... you are rushing nowhere for at least an hour.

True. I tend to take either Brussels or Ghent. Maastricht is more appropriate if you want to go to Lyon rather than Paris.

>Yes. Traffic lights on a highway, in the middle of a city. As if the highway in the middle of a city wasn't annoyinh enough the traffic lights added some extra noise, fumes and pollution.

This is an all too common sight in small town America, unfortunately.

Highways running directly through small towns seems almost the rule, not the exception.

I think this is a causality problem, not anything out of malice or bureaucratic foolishness.

Roads connect people. Towns are groups of people. Bigger roads connect larger groups of people. Bigger roads are the reasonable choice to convert to highways. People like/find utility in highways and roads, so they live near them.

It's an unfortunate extension of this logical process that results in 18-wheeler jake brakes thundering to a stop at the one red light in downtown Podunk, Nowhere at 3AM, on their way between Megatropolis and Port Industry, which leads to complaining at the town hall that they need "no engine braking" local ordinances and proposals that the 5-lane road speed limit should be reduced from 35 to 25. Nevermind that Podunk was established as a town because it was a convenient distance to stop at in horse-drawn buggies passing through 200 years ago between Megatropolis and Port Industry, and that every business in the town survives only because travelers stop there and inject money into the local economy...

Maybe at some point in the past, the major road should have been diverted around downtown by a half mile. But the local optimum the town currently sits at is far below the peak desirable state not because people love noise and pollution but because it's a straightfoward hill climb to the present state and it's hard to avoid that.

I really enjoyed this comment

In small town america, the towns usually grew on the side of the highway. That's where you put the businesses, because that's where the customers are. Then, that's where you put the houses, because it's close to everything. Small towns exist away from the highway, but you're unlikely to see them, and they're more likely to be on the decline, because they're hard to get to. See also towns that die when the highway is moved.

I'm from near that region. It was called N2 (not A2) in Maastricht for a long time, while the rest of the road (from Eijsden near Belgium to Amsterdam) was mostly [1] called A2 though some parts were called N2. Why? Because you were only allowed 80 km per hour there. Also, the traffic jams were huge.

[1] There used to be parts which were also called N2, such as the part between Eindhoven and 's Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch). This has been rebuild and has become A2 somewhere in the 90s. After that project (I don't remember exactly when), they rebuild the N2 in Maastricht to become A2.

There is still a motorway with traffic lights: the A59 is interrupted for a few hundred metres so it can have traffic lights at Knooppunt Hooipolder where there is an interchange with the (more important) A27. A major source of traffic jams. It is not signposted as having a different road number, although I guess administratively can't have an A number for that stretch.

> And IIRC the entire project was within budget

From TFA, "the one billion euro project is still ongoing, it will not be finished before 2026." There's plenty of time yet!

That's only for finishing the park on top, and the new parks in the vicinity that are being build in one big project but that don't really have anything to do with the tunnel per se. The tunnels and all the connector roads are done now.

Yes, one of the better managed (and not outright corrupt) public works in the Netherlands. Cool stuff.

I think you mean Amsterdam to Lyon

I got to experience that A2 traffic on a trip back in 2015. Maastricht was one of the most memorable parts of a 4-hour drive!

Was an eastern bypass for long-distance traffic studied?

Cool. Now try to picture those fumes and pollution in a tunnel.

Any tunnel of appreciable size will have designed ventilation and other auxiliary systems(life support/escape, maintenance, power, etc). It isn't just a tube in the ground.

But the ventilation doesn't go to the void, it will just be blown into the same neighborhood. So unless it's filtered in the tunnel ventilation system, you still get the same fumes there.

But you get considerably less fumes because the traffic isn't in a constant traffic jam because of the traffic lights on the highway.

Also, the end of the tunnels are a bit more out of the town centre than the road that was dead in the middle.

You can have ventilation stacks that at least distribute the exhaust higher into the atmosphere, or at key points where fewer people live. I don't know specifically if they do that here though.

It looks like there are 66 fans installed with venting at the tunnel ends. https://www.novenco-building.com/media/1166/king-willem-alex...

I know. They're designed with fire in mind. What I don't know is what they're rated at and if they run at higher flow rates depending on traffic and/or pollution levels.

The alternative was to run the highway around the city, which is probably also cheaper. Though it's nice that they recovered some space and planted grass and trees over it.

Cars come with HEPA filters. Most (non-Asian) pedestrians don't.

Noise and particulate pollution are perhaps the most external of the negative externalities of automobiles, riders being mostly insulated from their own emissions and from those of their peers. It feels fundamentally unfair.

I had the wonderful privilege of, by pure coincidence, having no cars pass through the road that I walk on my way to work, for about 4 or 5 minutes. I was stunned at the sheer peaceful silence of it. No "broooom" noise, no metallic screeching of brakes, no gasoline smell, no burnt clutch smell, no "dirty auto shop" smell in general. Just the trees rustling softly, faint chatter from the primary school kids some 100m away. I believe we are so used to it that we don't even realise what it is to be in relative silence in the middle of the city. I walk that street every day and I was just stunned to be in that place with no noise. My brain probably associated that walk with that constant background noise, and was freaked out when it wasn't there x)

Electric cars cannot come soon enough.

Above 22Mph it is the tire noise that the most dominant source of noise pollution by cars. In most noise pollution scenarios EV's will change nothing.

Most city driving is below 22mph, so this is a useless bit of info. Living next to a stop sign in San Francisco, 100% of the traffic near my place is at speeds less than 22mph and I can assure you that the tire noise is completely inconsequential compared to the revving engines and obnoxious exhausts.

Living in Boise's Downtown, I live next five lanes of traffic drive 35 or 40 mph on an asphalt road fortunately not chip sealed, like many of Idaho's roads. The revving engines are bad, but tire noise is easily 50 dB 15 meters off the street.

And I can assure you that most of the car noise where I live is tire noise (typical speeds around or exceeding 40 km/h which is the default limit in urban areas around here) Especially when the streets are wet and/or when it's studded tire season (that is to say, about five months per year). I realize that both of those conditions are almost completely alien to Californians, but there is a whole world outside the Sunny State as well!

Same. My street is (steeply) uphill, so it's a mixture of exhaust smoke, huge revving, burnt rubber, tire skidding, burnt clutch... A veritable bouquet, at 8h30 in the morning.

All at <35km/h. Can't open my windows before ~10am.

Most car noise on high speed roads is tire noise, not engine noise

GP comment sounded like it was in a town or city (school nearby), where average speeds are lower and "high speed roads" are not the norm. In towns and cities, engine noise definitely dominates tire and wind noise, especially revving from stops, and would thus be vastly improved by electric vehicles. Not to mention smell and air pollution which are always worse in fossil-fuel vehicles.

I live in the center of a city of ~230,000 and the top contributor to automobile noise absolutely seems to be tire noise even at normal urban speeds of roughly 30 to 50 km/h. I suppose traffic is generally calmer and traffic flow smoother here than in, say, large US cities or other parts of the world where people's driving habits are more aggressive. On the other hand, wet streets and studded tires amplify tire noise by a large factor (and most drivers insist on studs even though urban conditions almost never call for them, and non-studded winter tires would be a more appropriate choice).

I don't think HEPA filters are of any use against NOx?

Many don't anymore. Same story as timing belts. There was period in the late 90s through 2010s where they were standard until the OEMs realized nobody actually changes them and they generally become nasty to the point where they make the air dirtier. Now a lot of cars are omitting them again.

Well before the end of this tunnel's lifetime most cars will be electric.

Just 850 million euros of public money to build a mile and a half long tunnel under downtown! (Under a billion euros total.) A bi-level tunnel, with separate express and local levels, and four lanes on each level.

By contrast, the SR99 tunnel in Seattle was about 1/3 longer, cost $3-4 billion, depending on how lawsuits shake out, and has half the capacity (two levels with two lanes each). The Big Dig in Boston was the same length, and cost 22 times as much.

In timely news (another post on the front page), the A2 tunnel cost only modestly more than it’s costing San Francisco to simply reconfigure Market Street to shut down through traffic.

Different technologies. Judging from this article, this Maastricht tunnel seems to have been built as a "cut and cover" tunnel, while according to Wikipedia, that SR99 tunnel was built with a tunnel boring machine. AFAIK, the cut and cover method is much cheaper (but more disruptive during the construction, and can only be used for shallow tunnels like this one).

The TBM in the SR99 tunnel is also the largest TBM in the world. It was a bit of a gamble, and it didn't pay off. Another huge problem was that it ran into a huge metal caisson that had been placed while surveying the area to build the tunnel... The contractors operating the machine "knew" about it, but still ran into it, which broke the machine for a long time. (They were given information that it was there, but they overlooked it.)

Boring tunnels is also hard in the muddy Dutch soil. It was used in Amsterdam for the new Noord-Zuid-lijn, which had tons of complications and went way over deadline and budget by an enormous amount.

Although if there's a part of the country that is suitable for boring, it's probably Maastricht, which is in the tiny part of the country that has actual hills.

The SF Market St plan doesn't have that and the Central Subway has got to be cut and cover since they just shut down the road.

Cut and cover is just so much cheaper.

So like, what's the deal? Is that level of efficiency common in Netherlands/Europe or were they just as surprised?

What are they doing that they can end up with such a disparate outcome with regards to what most people expect from an ambitious public infrastructure project like that?

Like, I don't even think it's cynicism at this point that when you see they want to do something with the MTA or the Metro, they'll say it'll be X Billion and Y months, and you already know going into it that they're low by a factor of like 2-10x.

The "Noord-Zuid-Lijn" new metro line in Amsterdam was a classic disaster like so many others.

I guess the answer is "we have fuckups too but not all the time". Could it be the case though that the same holds for the US? I mean usually if something is on time and within budget it doesn't make the news just as much :D

That’s your “disaster?” 6 miles of new train line (4.5 underground) for $3.5 billion. Total construction time 15 years.

The first phase of the Second Avenue subway cost $4.5 billion for just 2 miles, and took 10 years. The next 1.5 mile segment will cost $6 billion (that’s just the estimate) and take another 10 years. And that’s not even all that over budget or delayed.

I’ve never encountered a major public project in the US that was on budget and on time. I’m sure there are some, but that’s not the rule. Here in the DC area, we recently spent $150 million on a bus station (it’s a nice, 3 level bus station on existing public land). That was delayed and was $50 million over budget. The $6 million renovation project in the parking garage at the metro station nearest to me is years behind schedule. The purple line in Maryland is years late and billions over budget. The silver line in Virginia is years late and billions over budget.

Your “disaster” would be a miracle in a major US city. Such a miracle that few cities are even contemplating such things. DC, for example, is growing rapidly, and WMATA desperately needs another tunnel through downtown. And people are willing to spend that kind of money—WMATA just invested $6 billion and a decade constructing the silver line to Virginia. And Maryland is investing a similar amount in a light rail through the suburbs. But a downtown tunnel would be a $15+ billion, 20-year project here.

To us, that was a disaster yes. I suppose we measure or weigh things differently? Or perhaps we haven't had those monstrosities you mention so we have no local reference.

Just as a minor counterpoint, the Anacostia River Tunnel project was finished on time, and the overall clean rivers project is on time and under budget by nearly 100MM so far.

Granted, it doesn't face WMATA's absolutely insane leadership and funding structure, but it can be done, and even in one of the most complex jurisdictional messes in the US.

It’s different legal and contracting culture. Britain is also a common law legal system and our projects are typically way less efficient than mainland Europe. E.g the most expensive TGV the french have built was about 5-10 times cheaper than HS2. It’s not land acquisition costs that are causing the difference as these only account for about 3bn of the 80bn budget. It’s not difficult terrain either as the french TGV med has more bridges and tunnels. It’s not labour costs as we share the same labour pool as the french so we could attract loads of french digger drivers if we paid 5x more. My theory is that UK politicians and managers are more risk averse so the cost of the risk gets pushed down the chain of subcontractors and every time it jumps down a level it multiplies. I also suspect that the french will have a government department for building high speed lines with a continuous culture and body of knowledge stretching back to the 1960’s with engineers on staff. Whereas in the U.K. the team will be assembled from various consulting engineering companies and everything that is learnt on the job gets lost when the team disbands at the end.

Don't worry, we have public works that go way over budget too. Curiously that happens more often with rail projects than with road projects here.

Is that 22 times as much for just the downtown part or the whole thing?

I saw a documentary on the Dig and it was a lot more involved than I would have guessed. Route to the airport if I recall, and a tunnel under a river, and by 'under the river' I mean that pretty literally. The tunnel wasn't far below the riverbed due to other obstructions so they came in essentially from above to lay it. They filled most of an hour just talking about that section.

In the comments right at the top a video was posted about that. Some evidently neoliberal group blaming environmentalists and labor unions for the high construction costs in the US. As if their counter examples, Canada, Japan, and the UK, don't have even better established labor unions and environmental oversight.

In broad strokes there are more environmental and labor protections in Canada, Japan, and the U.K., but at the same time, US law has some unique features that have been weaponized. For example, while the US is sometimes relatively more lax on environmental issues in the private sector, it’s very strict for environmental issues in the public sector. Nobody has the equivalent of NEPA, which requires every significant public project to undergo years (4-5 on average) of environmental review and litigation before even getting started. See: https://legal-planet.org/2012/05/13/comparing-canadian-and-u...

> US environmental law is much more generous in allowing for judicial review of decisionmaking by government agencies that is alleged to violate relevant environmental laws. It is also much more generous in allowing private parties to enforce environmental laws against other private parties who are alleged to have committed violations.

The US is unusual in the degree to which it allows private interests (environmentalists, landowners, etc.) to litigate and hold up projects that the government has already approved.

I mean I don't think saying that the unions in the US inflate costs is too out there..

Perhaps this is just my perception, but I would say the difference is that European unions (at least northern European, can't speak to the rest of Europe) seem less inclined to engage in dodgy behaviour than their US counterparts. I'm specifically thinking about construction, ports, etc.

I mean the fact that there are people employed to literally do nothing, "because that job used to exist and must never go away" is one example of this. It's not something I've heard of happening in Europe to the same extent it seems to in the US.

I like to say this and HN never takes it too kindly, but it seems like corruption is the problem in the US, not unions. Many people just like to “blame the union” and leave it at that, without actually asking the logical follow-up question: “What is it exactly that the unions are supposedly doing, and can it be stopped?”

The issue isn't unions per se, it's that there's overt collusion between the unions and the government officials who are supposed to be controlling costs. The United States has the unique situation where those government officials are often directly affiliated with the union they're supposed to be negotiating with. You can guess what happens when both sides have an incentive for costs to overrun and timetables to be blown.

We just had a farmers revolt in the Netherlands because of environmentalists groups pushing very restrictive laws which would result in both the amount of cattle in NL being halved and a lot of construction stopping. One major reason they protested was the news reporting that nitrogen kills trees.

It can go both ways, depending on how well things are thought out and executed. We have a lot of people who don't have realistic expectations and don't seem to realize that the Netherlands is largely made up out of artificially build nature which needs to be maintained and kept in check instead of left alone.

Rayiner, are there costs due to regulations and bureaucracy? How much do other projects of this size cost in regions of the US that are less “regulation heavy” such as the South? Basically not the West Cost or North East.

> the A2 tunnel cost only modestly more than it’s costing San Francisco to simply reconfigure Market Street to shut down through traffic

Salaries in San Francisco and Maastricht are widely different.

Salaries are one variable.

Wow that really is a staggering difference in cost per mile.

Similar problem in my home town, where the only major east/west highway across the black forest cuts the city in two [0] (they actually demolished parts of the old town which survived the WW2 bombings to build this road in the 60ies, which I just cannot wrap my head around). Seeing what they have done in Maastricht makes me very jealous! They already moved half of the highway here into a tunnel in the 90ies [1] and there are plans to start extending this tunnel in the next 5 years [2], but as the original plans already date back to the 80ies, it will most likely take another 20 years until the project is finished.

[0] https://www.stadttunnel-freiburg.de/sites/default/files/styl...

[1] http://www.daub-ita.de/fileadmin/images/daub/TunnelDB/UBD200...

[2] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freiburger_Stadttunnel

There is a similar project going on in the city of Hamburg for quite some years now[1], covering the Autobahn A7, which goes from southern Germany all the way up to the Danish border, thus being a pretty important route and Germany's longest Autobahn.

Roughly 140,000 cars are crossing the city through the Autobahn per day.

[1]: (PDF, english) https://www.hamburg.de/contentblob/7896702/27d2e4d96831a306f...

Los Angeles is going to build a wildlife overpass:


Pedestrians and nature need to be given a higher priority.

We have multiple of these here in Belgium and the Netherlands. Even between countries.



I talked to a biologist a while ago who told me that there are species that are so averse to move through 'different' environments that a single lane street through a field can effectively cut the habitat into two different habitats with individuals on both sides never interacting/crossing the street again. That's pretty sad and a way larger effect of land use than I had ever imagined.

The Netherlands is also well known for their ecopassages over highways (also known as ecoducts), according to Wikipedia there are 66 eco passages in the Netherlands as of 2015 [0]. There are some nice pictures of them in the wiki article as well.

[0] https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecopassage

One of those ecoducts [0] has a millitary shooting range on one side, which I always found quite funny. It is of-course quite safe since shooting exercises are rare. (Ignoring the fact that for some time, our soldiers would practice by shouting 'pang pang' ('bang bang' translated) [1] because ammo was too expensive)

[0] https://www.google.com/maps/@52.1051185,5.3619931,3a,75y,296...

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/dutch-soldie...

More remarkable than ecopassages are the underpasses built specifically for canals or major rivers. There are a few of these on the way from Den Haag to Utrecht that are pretty mind-boggling. It's also interesting to see cargo shipping going OVER the highway.

It was very noticeable to me in Dutch cities that there is wildlife.

We have one over I-90 in Washington! I think I heard they're building another one as well. Apparently they have them in Banff in Canada as well.



Quite an amazing effort, and the passing comparison to the Boston central artery/"big dig" was sobering.

Compare the culture of the respective locations and it's obvious why the Netherlands had the better outcome.

The feedback loops are all wrong for getting a high value tunnel under Boston. They are at least less wrong in "beer Europe"[0] + Scandinavia.

Massachusetts government "pays itself first" Massachusetts people consider the problem unsolvable and tolerates it. Netherlands and the adjacent parts of Europe (i.e I make no claims about construction projects in Italy) generally takes a hard line against anything that's not "pro-social" so heads would roll if politicians and bureaucrats misused their public works on graft like the Massholes do.

Source: Masshole who geeks out on government accountability


Love that illustration. Do you have a source? I'd like to pay attribution when I share it elsewhere.

It is a nice illustration, but they really missed an opportunity to include a fourth quadrant for "fruit brandy Europe". It would cover most of the Balkans and SE Europe, on the current dividing line between vodka and wine.

It also makes a lot of sense: fruit brandies are made of fruit like wine, but are as strong as vodka.

There were (mostly dead) plans for a while to do something similar with I-35 in Austin, Texas.


I very much doubt it will come to fruition any time soon given the political climate.

But, where would the homeless camp?

All joking aside, if its not a toll road is not getting built in Austin. I'd love to Dig & Cap I-35 all the way to airport blvd.

Why would they still want to make toll roads? I makes no sense aside from someone wanting to profit from essential public needs. You'd think if a bunch of people designate a small group to do government stuff on their behalf to make life better they do those sensible things centrally.

Responsive tolling on roads makes a lot of sense. Roads carry more people at 50 mph than they do at 30mph. So if you use the price of the road to keep the road moving, you can make a more effective road, rather than letting it be overwhelmed and less useful.

I thought an article just a few days ago proved that money-based restrictions or incentives only work if people are not left with any other choice and generally makes everyone sad and angry. Perhaps it's a culture or locale issue; we don't really have toll roads here.

Similar to Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.


Does burying a whole road like this make it possible to capture and prevent vehicle smog in the streets above?

Any tunnel needs lots of ventilation. That air has to go somewhere, and that's above ground. Unless they employ (expensive) measures to filter and clean the air, most of the pollution has to be released. So it's concentrating the pollution to the few spots where the ventilation systems stand instead of having low but mostly equal levels along the entire road. So the health of anyone who lives far away from those systems improves, and anyone who lives close to them faces more pollution with corresponding health consequences.

Unfortunately they decided not to filter the air at the egress points. This has been the subject of much debate and several law suits by people living near the tunnel ends.

Yes, smog is usually heavier than air (oxygen+nitrogen mix). If you do not blow it up there on purpose you can filter it and get it outside of the city.


good question, maybe some redirection and filtering in the airvents? dunno, interesting to look into

This is amazing, finally the ideas pioneered in EPCOT are making it to the real world.

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