Roads and waterways

Roads and waterways

The Dutch mobility policy serves multiple goals: safe journeys, reliable journey times and better accessibility for everyone. To achieve these goals, the focus in policy is on smart mobility and smart logistics.

The Dutch economy relies heavily on mobility, transport and logistics; the main economic centres must remain accessible. Smart working methods and innovations in traffic management, road design and traffic models offer opportunities for getting the most out of our road and waterway network and the opportunities for using them safely.

Traffic management

The Netherlands has a relatively dense, intensively used traffic network. Traffic management is essential if we are to keep all traffic running smoothly. Most traffic management measures operate automatically, such as our motorway traffic management system with variable speed limits, ramp metering en dynamic route information. But also traffic managers are stationed in five traffic centres across the country and control the traffic on our roads and waterways. They respond to emergencies and ensure incidents are properly handled, aided by various detection and communication resources such as cameras, information signs and the inland shipping information (BICS) and communication system.

In addition, Rijkswaterstaat works with market parties, knowledge institutes and other authorities on innovations in traffic management. Recently, the shift to smart traffic signal control systems have been made, allowing new opportunities to prioritise traffic at intersections. Based on policy preferences, priority can be given to public transport, bicycles, freight traffic or emergency vehicles.

Road design

Rijkswaterstaat is responsible for maintaining and improving the Netherlands’ trunk road network. Our road design methodology helps ensure that our road network performs well. And we achieve that with dynamic solutions such as rush-hour lanes that are only opened in heavy traffic.

When a road needs to be built or modified, Rijkswaterstaat commissions market parties to carry out the work. We retain oversight and supervise the contractors. We also provide guidelines, not only for the design stage but also for the layout of the road and for capacity assessment such as the Guidelines Design Motorways (ROA) and the Lighting Guideline.

We share our knowledge with market parties and other road operators and constantly adapt our guidelines. For example when developments in technologies such as self-driving cars give rise to new requirements for road markings and signage.

We share our knowledge with market parties and other road operators and constantly adapt our guidelines

Traffic models

Building, widening and maintaining roads and railways are activities that have to be planned well in advance. We use two strategic traffic and transport models to help us produce long-term forecasts: the National Model System (LMS) and the Dutch Regional Model (NRM). Rijkswaterstaat manages and develops these models on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

The ministry uses these models to calculate the capacity needed on our main roads, waterways and rail networks every few years. The results are incorporated in the Integral Mobility Analysis. Based on the results of these calculations and political considerations, the ministry then decides where to focus infrastructure investments on. The various programmes and projects resulting from this decision-making process can be found in the Infrastructure Space and Transport Overview Multi-annual Plan (MIRT).

Predict consequences of interventions

The models can be used to predict the consequences of various interventions. Once the decision has been made to invest in a section of a road or waterway, the models help us decide exactly what needs to be changed. They also shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of building new infrastructure or adapting existing assets to handle changes in traffic volumes and journey times. The forecasts then form input for cost/benefit and environmental impact analyses on factors such as noise nuisance, air pollution and nature conservation.

The models are based on extensive surveys among citizens of the Netherlands in which they are asked about their mobility habits. We repeat these surveys every four years to ensure the models remain up to date. Information on the spatial developments, such as business parks and new residential areas, and data on future road projects are also used as input for the models.