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Groningen Bereikbaar: keeping a city open for business

The city of Groningen in the Netherlands is working hard on its infrastructure in preparation for the coming years. But during the execution of this kind of project, the accessibility of the city is often threatened. Over the last couple of years, TMC Civil Engineering have become known for their expertise in the field of traffic engineering, so Groningen asked them to help keep the city accessible while the works are underway. Ben Rentinck, Director of TMC Civil Engineering, explains: “Within a short time, we have become highly skilled in traffic engineering – especially in dynamic traffic management. We have been fortunate to be able to attract some of the best experts in the field to join our TMC family, including Eric Jan Dikker and Richard Martens. By demonstrating our abilities in projects like this, we are building a great reputation very fast.”

Groningen Accessible

The umbrella project in Groningen is called Groningen Bereikbaar (Groningen Accessible) and it consists of major infrastructural transformations at several sites, including the Groningen train station area and the southern bypass freeway A7/N7. The Groningen Bereikbaar project is a collaboration between the city of Groningen, the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, ProRail and the Region Groningen-Assen. Martijn Elting is Traffic Manager and Project Manager of Groningen Bereikbaar: “The goal is to keep the city accessible in a hospitable way. We want to make sure that people who come to Groningen enjoy their visit, even while these works are underway. We are achieving this goal by carefully planning all the activities to minimize the impact on the public, and by implementing several new systems.”

Dynamic Information Systems

Groningen Bereikbaar called in the help of traffic expert Eric Jan Dikker to make an inventory of the kinds of systems that would be necessary. Eric Jan: “At first, we were just asked to make an inventory, but after that we were also asked to help with the public contracting, the purchase process and the implementation of the new systems. Groningen Bereikbaar wanted a system that could continuously monitor the traffic in and around the city, while simultaneously steering the traffic, and also encouraging people to leave their cars outside of the city.”

Richard Martens, expert in Dynamic Traffic Systems, joined the project after the inventory phase. Richard: “We designed a monitoring system that registers both the intensity and the quality of the traffic. This means it registers the number of cars and also the time that the cars need to cover certain sections of the city. We use this information to inform the public via 26 dynamic information panels inside and outside the city. In addition to this, there will be 40 dynamic information panels that will indicate where parking is available, alongside other panels on the freeway coming into the city to inform commuters about bus departure times at the Park & Ride on the outskirts of the city.”

Eric Jan: “Together with Groningen Bereikbaar we made a clear set of potential congestion and traffic incident scenarios. Also, we created a unique setup that connects the new monitoring and public information systems to the Traffic Control Centre in Wolfheze, near Arnhem. There, a traffic operator monitors the traffic in and around Groningen 24/7. So no matter what happens on the roads, or when it happens, the public is kept well informed and the traffic is optimally guided.”

Near and distant future

Both Groningen Bereikbaar and TMC Civil Engineering look to the future with confidence; most of the new systems will be installed and operational in September, and TMC is already talking with the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment about creating similar systems in other cities.

Martijn: “The coming weeks will be very exiting, and I have every confidence that things will go smoothly. We are truly very happy with the work of TMC. In my career, I’ve rarely experienced this quality of collaborative working.”

Ben: “We are already seeing other cities wanting to follow the example of Groningen – especially hooking up their monitoring and Dynamic Information System to the central Traffic Control Centre. We are clearly seeing that there is demand for expertise on these kinds of systems. And I am glad that with the Groningen Bereikbaar project, we have established ourselves as leaders in the field.”

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