Rotterdam a work in progress

ROTTERDAM: a work in progress


TEXT: HANS KRAMER | PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTIM
What’s next?
Rotterdam is never finished. Like any other big city, there’s a lot going on. Visitors to this city on the Maas will need to pay attention. In the coming years, the wellknown Coolsingel and Maastunnel are being renewed at the same time. We spoke with project manager Peter Spakman about the vision, the economic forecast and, of course, we also asked about the implications of the construction for the businesses and visitors in Rotterdam Central District (RCD).
Spakman is clear about the consequences: “The entire length of the Coolsingel will be renewed in phases in order to redesign this congested traffic route. And that is unfortunately not possible without people experiencing some inconvenience.” In any case, until March 2021, the Coolsingel in the South-North direction will be inaccessible to cars. In the other direction, so from Hofplein towards the Erasmus Bridge, you will still be able to drive over the inner city’s boulevard.
RCD remains accessible
Spakman: “RCD will remain accessible via the detour routes indicated: ’s Gravendijkwal or the Mariniersweg-Pompenburg. Traffic coming from the motorway can best follow the signs to Ring Noord. Navigation apps such as Waze, TomTom and Google Maps show the closures and should offer the best alternative routes.”
The renovation also affects public transport passengers. The tram still stops at Beurs but won’t continue on to Stadhuis. Those who are headed to the Stadhuisplein, will have to cover the last leg on foot, or travel by metro to the Stadhuis metro stop. There will also be works here, but this will not impact passengers.

IMPRESSION WEST 8
Aboutaleb
Not only travellers, but also entrepreneurs and the City Hall will be affected by the road works. The municipality intends to ensure that shops and businesses along the Coolsingel remain accessible, but will request suppliers in some cases to deliver within certain time slots. Also, it is said that Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb will temporarily move to a quieter office within the City Hall.
Optimal scenario
That the two major traffic arteries of the city are being renewed at the same time seems somewhat unfortunate. However, according to Spakman, this is the most optimal scenario: “The city will now be less accessible for the coming 3 years. The alternative was to go through this period twice. And perhaps shorty after each other. Traffic studies have shown that the current traffic network is equipped to handle the combined renovation of the Coolsingel and Maastunnel. Although it does become more vulnerable.”
According to Spakman, there is an important reason for the simultaneous implementation, which – in addition to the two traffic arteries – also incorporates a number of other construction and infrastructure projects. “During the work on the Maastunnel, two lanes of the Coolsingel will remain open, from Hofplein in the direction of the Erasmus Bridge. Upon completion of the Maastunnel renovation, traffic heading south will be able to pass through the Maastunnel again, so there will be alternative routes for the Coolsingel.”
City lounge
Such a large-scale renovation is not without good reason. Although the economic climate of this important inner-city is already growing, Spakman feels that the City Lounge approach is paying off. City Lounge is an overall plan for the city centre, of which the Coolsingel and Maastunnel are important components. The goal is to make the city centre more appealing. To visit, to live and to do business.
Spakman illustrates: “In the past, parking at your doorstep was the norm. That is why we had parking spots everywhere in the streets, so you would see cars parked even right down town. Now, we have more parking garages at the edge of the city centre. It is cheaper than parking along the street and means that we have fewer parking spots, and also fewer cars, in the city centre.”
Broader trend
The municipality and companies in the city stimulate each other to invest, explains Spakman. “Many property owners have already invested in their real estate and an increasing number of companies are relocating to the Coolsingel or nearby. In turn, this is an incentive for the municipality of Rotterdam to proceed with the implementation of City Lounge. And now that the municipality is taking on the Coolsingel and other areas, more investors are starting new initiatives.”
So, the road works are part of a broader trend to develop RCD into a place that welcomes its guests with a lively and international allure. Spakman: “We have a long list of more recent and ongoing investments and there are still quite a number of investments in the pipeline.”
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