May 2019 - Urban Strategy

Ring road changes into green avenue

The municipality of Veenendaal and the province of Utrecht are facing a complex task: widening the Rondweg-Oost (east ring road) in Veenendaal. This is necessary due to the growth of East Veenendaal. At the same time, that growth also forms a limiting factor, as it will entail a significant impact on the infrastructure of a densely populated area.

Concerns about noise and particulate matter
We were asked to draft a spatial framework for the road widening that offers space for mobility, quality of life and allows for further spatial developments in the future. Widening of the Rondweg-Oost is necessary to provide space to both the strong SME sector in the region and the growing population in East Veenendaal. Residents of the adjacent neighbourhoods turned out to be concerned regarding their quality of life and wondered about the effects the new road would have on noise pollution and particulate matter emissions. The current ring road already runs close to the existing neighbourhoods, and with all the spatial developments in East Veenendaal, the widened road will be located in the middle of urban areas and close to the inhabitants.

Speed reduction as a solution
The spearhead of our approach is to investigate the effect a speed reduction would have on mobility, quality of life and space. What effects does driving at 70 kph instead of 80 have on these aspects? This relatively small speed reduction has a positive effect on the quality of life. However, it does require a few changes. For example, a road with a maximum speed of 70 kph must lie within a built-up area, which means the reduction would also impact the design requirements. It should also be obvious for drivers that they need to adjust their speed. This can be achieved through specific adjustments such as curbs, tree-lined avenues, hedges and other types of natural fencing.

This would give the road a greener and more open look, which means that Rondweg-Oost could become a real avenue. Furthermore, all that additional green would also help with the absorption of particulate matter. Our research left an impression. The municipality of Veenendaal and the province of Utrecht will now further implement the widening based on a 70-kph road within built-up areas.

Further information: Bert van Breugel, Remmelt Oosterhuis