A2 Maastricht project

The A2 Maastricht project organisers want to agree upon a single integrated and sustainable plan for the city and the motorway, from which future generations will continue to benefit! 

A plan with multiple objectives for the improvement of the traffic flow on the A2 and the accessibility of Maastricht, as well as one that promotes the quality of life and road safety, resolving bottlenecks within the city, and creating opportunities for urban development.

The A2 project organisation was set up in 2003 and consists of representatives of the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, the Provincial Government of Limburg, and the municipal councils of Maastricht and Meerssen.

10 unique characteristics of the plan

  1. the Green Carpet.
    A recreational strip of 2000 trees, winding through the city from north to south, from the Vaeshartelt estate right through to Centre Céramique.
  2. the Parklaan (park avenue)
    A long, intimate tree-lined avenue above the dual-layered tunnel; the connecting element between the adjacent city-districts.
  3. Dual-layered tunnel.
    Two double tunnels, one above the other, separating local traffic from through traffic.
  4. Property development
    • Parklaan (park avenue): property that looks like it has evolved over time, in keeping with the contemporary street scene.
    • the Europaplein and Geusselt junctions: striking office mansions and a residential tower  block at each junction.
  5. The Tweeherigheid (Double Dukedom)
    Maastricht's green, wooded access points: the Hertog van Brabant (Duke of Brabant) as a gateway to the north, and the Prins-bisschop van Luik (Prince-Bishop of Liège) as a gateway to the south.
  6. Landgoederenzone (Country Estate Zone)
    The Landgoederenzone will be given a new lease of life. The “Green Carpet” will connect the zone with the rest of the city.
  7. Cycle bridge
    A cycle bridge over the A2 motorway will create a natural connection between the Landgoederenzone (Country Estate Zone) and the Geusselt junction.
  8. Caterpillar phasing
    The tunnel construction machinery passes by nearby residents just once, moving along in phases like a caterpillar, thus ensuring minimum disruption in terms of accessibility and optimum safety.
  9. Air quality and noise
    The air quality and noise pollution will remain below the maximum permitted levels at all times without the need for inconvenient screens or vulnerable technological tricks.
  10. Cultural heritage
    The architecturally valuable Gemeenteflat (Municipal apartment building) on Koningsplein will be preserved.

A2 Maastricht represents a single high-quality total product, fast and efficient completion, and more effective and decisive government bodies. This is achieved through:

  • Groundbreaking cooperation between the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, the municipal councils of Maastricht and Meerssen, and the Provincial Government of Limburg;
  • A combined approach involving the Infrastructure (Planning Procedures) Act, the zoning plan procedure and the tendering procedure;
  • Joint approach towards regional development and the transport infrastructure;
  • “Tendering competition” between parties within the market for the best plan complying with certain preconditions and a maximum budget.

Nationally, “A2 Maastricht” is regarded as an innovative project for integrated regional development in the Policy Document on Mobility and in the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management’s policy for public-private cooperation. Due to the international importance and cross-border transport function of the project, the A2 Maastricht project has been awarded a European grant from the TEN fund (Trans-European Network).

Plan preparations and cooperation with parties within the market

A so-called state Infrastructure (Planning Procedures) Act-based/EIA procedure must be followed for the purposes of transforming the current A2 route into a motorway. In June 2006, on the basis of extensive research – including “A single plan for the city and the motorway: Research into alternatives and variations for the A2 route through Maastricht” – the ministers of Transport, Public Works and Water Management and the ministers of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment opted for a tunnel through the city. Parties within the market will design various possibilities for this tunnel route. These designs will be assessed in terms of their impacts in the second phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 

The basis for the European tendering procedure is the Collaborative Agreement, also reached in June 2006, between the State, the Provincial Government of Limburg, and the municipal councils of Maastricht and Meerssen. This agreement sets out all the project elements, rights, obligations and risks involved in the project, and it puts the public parties (the governmental bodies) in a position to get down to work together with “the market.” 

The innovative approach to tendering is particularly striking. There is no ready-made plan for which a party is simply being sought to carry out the construction work. On the basis of the programme of requirements, the planning area, the budget and the property opportunities, “the market” is being asked to design the best total solution itself for transport and traffic-related project elements (infrastructure) as well as town and country planning and urban development elements (property). “The market” is being urged to form consortia in order to take part in the tendering process jointly. Consortia are collaborative groups comprised of parties specialised in traffic and transport issues and parties specialised in town and country planning and urban development working together with experts from other disciplines. Thanks to the combined approach of tendering and compulsory procedures, interested parties have two interim opportunities to give their opinions on “the market’s” plans.

Project realisation

  • A full connection in both directions between the A2 and the A79;
  • A connecting road between the A2 and the Beatrixhaven industrial estate;
  • Improvement of the traffic flow on Viaductweg;
  • A tunnel with two carriageways of four lanes each and full connections in both directions at the Geusselt and Europaplein junctions;
  • Construction of a new above-ground city boulevard on the site of the current A2 route;
  • Property development in relation to urban renewal; more than 1100 homes (new construction and reconstruction) and 30,000 m2 gross floor area for commercial use;
  • Possible extra property, if this fits in with the urban programming of the Maastricht municipal council.

Budget

Alongside new possibilities for property development, the government partners have a budget of over €630 million available to them. This absolute limit has been set out in the Collaborative Agreement. The agreement can be inspected at this website. For financing aspects, see also the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management’s Long-term Infrastructure and Transport Programme (MIT), www.sdu.nl. 

Important milestone

Interim decision on the Infrastructure (Planning Procedures)/EIA procedure — June 2006 

Collaborative Agreement — June 2006

Preferred alternative for making the Beatrixhaven industrial estate accessible from the A2 — Second half of 2006

Start of European tendering — End of 2006

Voluntary consultation of provisional market plans — Second half of 2008

Choice of best plan (definitive bids/awarding of contract) for the city and the motorway — Second half of 2009

Start of execution of preparatory activities — Second half of 2009

Draft decision on tunnel route/draft zoning plan — First half of 2010

Public consultation on draft decision on tunnel route/draft zoning plan — First half of 2010

Decision on tunnel route/establishment of zoning plan and start of construction of traffic/transport-related elements — Second half of 2010

Completion of transport infrastructure — 2016*

Completion of last property element — 2025*

*Or as soon as the definitive market plan allows.

Preparation of the execution of the plan

Good preparations for the execution of the plan will receive a great deal of attention during the tendering process. The consortium that has put together the best plan for the city and the motorway will be chosen partly on the basis of the proposed approach to implementation. Measures that will be considered include:

  • A diversion for through traffic (long-distance traffic not needing to be in the Maastricht area), well before Maastricht.
  • Offering maximum options for regional motor traffic with Maastricht or the surrounding area as its destination, via the existing network of major roads.
  • Modifying signposting so that this traffic does not unnecessarily pass through the temporary A2 between the Geusselt and Europaplein junctions.
  • During construction, the temporary A2 must have a minimum of two lanes in each direction.
  • Motor traffic to and from the city districts alongside the current A2 route will be concentrated on Voltastraat and Scharnerweg.
  • The existing public transport services will remain in place during construction. In the event of the (temporary) closure of a road or route, an alternative route must be available within a reasonable distance. \
  • The existing crossing places for pedestrians and cyclists will continue to be available for use during construction. In the event of the (temporary) closure of a crossing place, an alternative must be available within a reasonable distance.
  • Prevention of construction traffic driving through residential streets/areas.
  • Homes/premises bordering the construction site must be safely accessible throughout the period of construction work.

Seamlessly connected 

English Summary of the integral design ‘de Groene Loper’ of Avenue2 

Entering the heart of Maastricht, you discover that what the city wants most is a solution toa persistent problem that splits the city in two: the A2 national motorway. Maastricht longsfor change, connection, cleaner air, and a reduction of noise pollution. Avenue2 is working torealise that dream, and we will ensure that it becomes a reality. We are at the start of a dream that is set to come true.Our plan emerged from the wishes of Maastricht and its residents, and out of respect for the city. Our goal is to make use of the city’s own abundant strength - the impact of the plan that we have designed will be enormously positive. Maastricht will once again be made whole. We will restore both the east-west and north-south connections, connect the city to the Country Estate zone (Landgoederenzone) in the north, and bring the neighbourhoods in Maastricht East closer together. Our plan is made to fit Maastricht and its residents – like a glove. 

With the tunnelling of the A2 near Maastricht, we are turning things upside down. Cars, lorries and motorcycles will disappear under the ground, and a point of discussion for years will finally become a reality. Above the tunnel, we are setting up a green park avenue, and grey will once again become green. We are extending this avenue towards both the north and south. We call this green route, which twists like a green ribbon through the city, the Green Carpet (de Groene Loper). The avenue is our gift to Maastricht - it is a route planted with no fewer than four thousand trees that connects the city with its surroundings. With the Green Carpet, we are offering Maastricht opportunities for change, improvement and connection. 

Creating opportunities 

The Green Carpet 

The Green Carpet forms the heart of our plan, which arises from our conviction that the space atop the tunnel deserves not only an urban approach, in the form of a boulevard, but even more importantly a scenic approach, in the form of a green, intimate avenue. The Green Carpet will change the current A2 zone into a connecting space for the city. And not only that, but the Green Carpet will also extend beyond the space atop the tunnel, twisting from north to south through the city like a green ribbon running from the Ceramic District to deep into the Country Estate zone. The route will link the many areas of the city. We will give the route its green character by planting thousands of linden trees next to each other in rows four to eight trees wide. This will give the avenue allure and a suitable atmosphere that exudes peace, space and vitality.

Down to the last detail 

Stacked tunnel 

We consciously chose a uniquely shaped tunnel; not one with all lanes running parallel to each other, but one with two tunnel tubes each of two lanes, on top of each other in stacked form. As a result, the tunnel will not be wider than the current A2, but can still handle larger traffic volumes. Above ground, this offers enormous possibilities, from increased space, safety and quality of life, for people, flora and fauna. This can all be found in our design of the outside space. Our aboveground design is geared mainly towards pedestrians and cyclists. There will be no trace of a visible ‘scar’, creating the feeling that something intangible has happened, something that leaves only a pleasant feeling behind.

The tunnel route runs from the Geusselt interchange to the Europaplein interchange and covers approximately two kilometres. The tunnel’s four separate tubes create an optimum flow of traffic. We separate local traffic from through traffic to help reduce traffic lane changes in the tunnel. In the event of an obstruction or maintenance, traffic can easily flow into another tube, which means we will not need to lay any emergency routes above ground through Maastricht East, we can keep the roadway narrow, and we can design the space for slower traffic. 

The heart of the Green Carpet 

Park avenue 

One of the Contracting Authority’s clearest wishes was for the development of a boulevard above the tunnel. We translated the boulevard into a park avenue. The main difference is that, with an avenue, the emphasis is on living rather than using the space for traffic purposes. Our park avenue is green, long, intimate and designed mainly for pedestrians and cyclists. We have designed the avenue with fifty per cent less asphalt than the amount currently at the same location. Because the width of the park avenue is modest and we are organising it as a green space, it will become even less of a main traffic artery. We imagined the avenue not as a barrier, but as a connective element that fits seamlessly into the existing surroundings. We can include the park avenue in our design, because we have chosen the option of a stacked tunnel, giving us a great deal of freedom for the design above ground. 

The face of Maastricht 

Two unique city entrances 

We have given the mouths of the tunnel a unique form where the tunnel descends at the northern end near the Geusselt junction, and at the southern end near the Europaplein interchange. The tunnel mouths will one day be recognisable as two sloping areas in the landscape. We call these two new entrances to the city the name ‘Tweeherigheid’, which loosely translates to ‘Dual Sovereignty’. This references the period in Maastricht history in which two sovereigns shared control of the city: the Duchy of Brabant and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The tunnel mouths will above all be given an attractive, green character. At the Europaplein, the green, sloping space lies just outside the city. We mark the mouth of the tunnel there with a row of urban villas between the park avenue and the John F. Kennedysingel, where a residential building will one day also be one of the area’s defining characteristics. At the Geusselt junction, a sloping area will be created that will form the transition between city and landscape. The real estate in the area will guide the Green Carpet’s route here. 

Unity in diversity 

Real Estate 

As we see it, any extreme, vastly different new real estate plans would not fit into the intimate character of the city of Maastricht, which is why we chose to design houses and offices along the park avenue that form a natural transition to the existing buildings. In addition to quality, this real estate will not only add a completely new aspect to the existing neighbourhoods, but obviously will also blend seamlessly into the existing environment. With the new construction, we are completing what is already there. The park avenue will one day look as if it had grown organically over the years, rather than the area exuding an atmosphere of a newly built neighbourhood. As for atmosphere, the avenue will one day be reminiscent of well known, varied avenues in cities such as Brussels and Antwerp, but also of the existing boulevards in Maastricht. Above all, the avenue will have an allure that suits the Green Carpet. The avenue will one day be lined by houses that are staggered in heights and widths – narrow, wide, low, tall – diversity will be the most prominent element. The area will feature stacked buildings alongside private homes, land-based houses and apartments, and fine 3 buildings with ample space on the ground floor for studios, stores or home offices. Houses will have front gardens or will directly border the pavement and a variety of roof styles, for which we have opted for brick architecture. 

On the map 

Country estate zone 

The Green Carpet offers a wonderful opportunity to revitalise the now somewhat fragmented Country Estate zone. When speaking of the Country Estate zone in Maastricht, we do not immediately think of the type of zone such as the Vecht region in the province of Utrecht. The Maastricht zone is more like a number of individual country estates of significant ecological and recreational value. Our plan is an initiative to once again bring the zone together as a single entity. We will extend the Green Carpet over the A2 by means of a cycle bridge to Mariënwaard. It might also be possible for it to keep ‘rolling along’ to the Juliana Canal and Castle Meessenhoven. The Green Carpet reconnects existing country estates such as Geusselt Castle, Villa Kanjel and Vaeshartelt with each other and with the city. Along the A2, the Country Estate zone will gradually change into a more finely meshed network of water zones and fauna passages. 

Approach to the city entrance 

Cycle bridge 

Near Nazareth, the Green Carpet crosses the A2 in the form of a pedestrian and cycle bridge. We have given this ‘gate’ to Maastricht a unique form, because it marks the intersection of the Green Carpet with the A2 and serves as the approach to the entrance to the city. The bridge welcomes motorists who travel the A2 from the north into the city – the route over the bridge travels in an S-shaped path. It ‘rises’ from the landscape on the side of Geusselt Park, crosses the motorway and then once again follows the open, watery landscape on the west side near Nazereth. 

Like a caterpillar 

Tunnel train 

We will construct the tunnel with the help of a logistic ‘tunnel train’. This construction machine travels like a caterpillar through the various areas in a single journey. In this way, we will build the tunnel just as quickly as a traditional tunnel, but we only pass by residents once. We do not need to drive piles, which means the construction can be carried out with considerably less vibration and noise pollution. In addition, this construction method ensures better accessibility and safety during the construction. The tunnel will be completed in 2016. Transport of marl and dirt and delivery of construction materials will only occur along the old motorway, so that the region will experience an absolute minimum of inconvenience. On the west side of the tunnel under construction, traffic from the A2 will travel along a temporary, narrowed detour. Once the tunnel is complete, most of the work will take place under the ground and outside of the city area. By building in this way, residents of the area will only be inconvenienced once, and the inconvenience will be limited to a single area. 

Second wind 

Air and noise 

Our plan improves the air quality and noise situation in the planning area in a natural and futureproof way, thanks to our design solutions. The air quality and the noise situation will improve considerably and noticeably near the tunnel mouths due to our choice of a stacked tunnel. Our plan also completely satisfies the legal requirements for air quality. For the homes in the planning area, the air quality will even exceed the legal requirements. The noise situation 4 along the roads in the city will improve considerably, because they will have lower traffic intensity – with ten to thirty percent less traffic than current levels, thanks to the improved traffic management through the new tunnel.

With respect 

Cultural heritage 

The planning area encompasses several cultural heritage areas. We have carefully incorporated this heritage, which is so valuable to the city of Maastricht, into our plan. A unique new development arising from our solution is the preservation of the council flat at Koningsplein. Our plan also does justice to the many other valuable cultural-historical objects in the area. 

2026: Maastricht as one 

The entire plan will be completed in 2026. Just think of it: Maastricht as one, seamlessly connected by the Green Carpet.