The A67 is important for the accessibility of the south of the Netherlands and for goods traffic. It is a busy road which is particularly prone to hold-ups during the rush hour. Between 25 and 40 percent of the vehicles using this road are trucks carrying goods. The A67 road is also prone to accidents, and these cause severe delays. For that reason, we are looking for ways to improve the flow of traffic on the A67.
This is being examined in the 'A67 Investigation (Verkenning A67)'. The start decision for this investigation was signed by Minister Schultz van Haegen and Mr Van der Maat and Mr Van der Broeck, members of the Provincial Executives of North Brabant and Limburg respectively, in October 2016. The investigation looked especially at how new innovative technologies in the field of mobility and traffic management can contribute to getting all the private vehicles and lorries to their destinations smoothly and efficiently. The A67 Investigation is focusing on the section between the Leenderheide traffic junction in Eindhoven and the Zaarderheiken traffic junction near Venlo.
On 27 September 2017, SmartwayZ.NL's programme council approved a proposal for further research into three clusters of measures to tackle the problems on the A67. These three clusters vary from smart mobility to small-scale infrastructural measures to increasing road capacity, and possible combinations of some or all of them. This top-level decision concluded the analytical phase of the MIRT exploratory study.
The three clusters of measures were researched in 2017 and 2018 as part of the appraisal phase of the MIRT exploratory study. The measures deemed likely to have effect were elaborated during the appraisal phase, and the effects on the natural environment, water, cultural history, etc., were brought into perspective.
Last November, the inter-provincial MIRT consultation (between Noord-Brabant and Limburg, and the Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management) decided on the preferred measures for dealing with the problems on the section of the A67 between Leenderheide and Zaarderheiken. This decision is an important step towards tackling the problems on the A67 as a whole.
Increased capacity and extra short-term measures
The stretch of the A67 between the Leenderheide junction and Geldrop is being widened. A third lane is being added to the Eindhoven to Geldrop carriageway; capacity is being increased on the opposite carriageway by adding a slip road. The slip road will mean that traffic joining the A67 at Geldrop that needs to exit at Leenderheide will no longer have to merge with other traffic.
A package of smart mobility measures and other minor changes to the infrastructure will be introduced in the near future. Smart mobility measures are smart measures aimed at reducing the volume of traffic, improving traffic flows and reducing the number of incidents. There will be a campaign to reduce the volume of personal transport between Geldrop and Leenderheide in the rush hour by encouraging commuters to travel by bicycle and by making deals with employers. In addition, a drive-over system to measure the tyre pressures on trucks is being installed with a view to reducing the number of breakdowns due to tyre failure. Another improvement decided on is a smart system to make merging easier and safer.
The Minister has also decided to implement minor infrastructural measures, such as the creation of emergency refuge areas and improving signposting to make signs more visible near the exits. In addition, a number of the junctions east of Geldrop still need to be altered. The effect this approach is having will be monitored closely so as to make it possible to predict whether, and when, supplementary measures will be necessary.
Conclusion of MIRT exploratory study and follow-up
The 'Preferred Alternative', as presented by the Minister, has been elaborated in a Draft Structural Concept. This was published in February 2019, together with the required environmental impact report (EIR, in Dutch: MER). In the six weeks following publication, reactions to the Draft Structural Concept could be submitted by interested parties. The Memorandum of Reply will include a response to the sevarious reactions. Where necessary, the Draft Structural Concept will be adapted on the basis of the reactions received. It is expected that the final version of the Structural Concept will be adopted by the Minister at the end of June. That will signify the formal conclusion of the MIRT exploratory study, and will herald the start of the next phase: the phase in which the plans are fleshed out. Officially, the commission will be transferred from the Minister to the executive implementing body, the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management. A new team at DG-PWWM will then take over responsibility and start elaborating the plans for the preferred alternative for the A67 between Leenderheide and Geldrop. At the same time, the measures for the near future will be fleshed out and put in place so that they can also be implemented as soon as possible.