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Building highways, bridges, junctions and viaducts

Twelve kilometres of new highway, a two and a half kilometres new bridge and several junctions, viaducts and tunnels. In one of the biggest recent infrastructure projects in The Netherlands Employeneur Dirk Berendsen is only a small cog in a gigantic wheel. ‘But I am a pretty relevant cog.'

Before the pandemic Dirk Berendsen was caught nearly every day in the traffic jam on the A12 highway that runs past his hometown of Zevenaar in the east of The Netherlands. As Employeneur of the Civil Engineering business cell he now works on a project by contractors consortium GelreGroen that is going to tackle this problem. In 2019 GelreGroen won the tender by the Dutch Department of Waterways and Public Works to expand the A15 highway by twelve kilometres from the town of Bemmel towards Zevenaar, where the highway is connected to the A12 via a new junction. Furthermore, halfway through the A15 is directed over a local waterway by a 2500 metres long bridge. Both highways are also widened from two to three lanes to lessen traffic jams. The project will take about four years to complete and costs 1.2 billion euro’s.

Integral design

As work planner for GelreGroen Dirk Berendsen is responsible for all concrete constructions at the location where the A15 is connected to the A12, including a new junction, a tunnel, a viaduct and a water well. One of his tasks is writing implementation plans to ensure that the design of the concrete works and the practical execution on the construction site match up seamlessly. “I have to coordinate with work planners of other departments, such as the people doing excavation and asphalting work,” Dirk says. “The latter decide the width of the highway and the thickness of the asphalt, which in turn impacts the width of our bridge section. In the end everything has to come together into one integral design.”

I’m just one cog in a gigantic wheel. But I’m free to contribute my own input, so I’m a pretty relevant cog.

It’s by far the largest infrastructure project he has ever worked on, Dirk says, with numerous departments, sections and decision-makers. “Instead of just one designer and one constructor, you now have an entire design team and construction team. I’m just one cog in a gigantic wheel. But I’m free to contribute my own input, so I’m a pretty relevant cog.”

Working from home

Dirk had heard about TMC during his last job and was eager to switch. “Before TMC I had a steady job with one contractor, which meant I was limited to the projects they accepted. But I wanted to gain new knowledge and experience in different kinds of projects. TMC offers me that opportunity.” When he heard about the big infrastructure project at GelreGroen he asked TMC to give him an assignment there, which was no sooner said than done.

I wanted to gain new knowledge and experience in different kinds of projects. TMC offers me that opportunity.

The pandemic provided some challenges. Dirk: “I love coming to the construction site at a quarter to seven in the morning, talk to the builders, drink coffee together and then start working away. Because of corona that’s no longer possible. I find it challenging to work from home. I prefer explaining things personally by showing graphics or drawings, but now I have to do it at a distance via Teams.”

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Curious about the whole story?

Backpack

What Dirk enjoys most about the project is its complexity, which gives him the chance to apply his knowledge from previous projects. There are more upsides. “Because I live in Zevenaar myself everyone in my surroundings knows what I’m building, which is pretty cool. And it’s nice that the problem of traffic jams is going to be solved. Before corona I was trapped almost daily in traffic jams on the A12 highway, so I hope that will happen less in the future. Once the road is built I’m going to be using it for years to come.”

I love coming to the construction site at a quarter to seven in the morning, talk to the builders, drink coffee together and then start working away.

Working for TMC suits Dirk. “I love their entrepreneurial spirit. TMC has a great system of sharing that entrepreneurial vision so that both the company and the Employeneur can improve and grow. That makes TMC unique in the consultancy sector.”

What's next?

He hopes to do many more assignments at TMC in order to experience all facets of infrastructure projects. “In my last job I was an assistant project leader, which had less to do with engineering and more with processes and contracts. That’s why I have now opted for work planning, so I can delve more into hard-nosed engineering. I hope that one day my backpack of experience is full enough that I can take the step towards being an autonomous project manager. TMC is going to help me reach that goal.”

Want to know more about working at TMC Civil Engineering? Get in touch with:

Freek Alberink

Director Civil Engineering, Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)6 12 30 89 33

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