In a normal rush hour, around 9,500 cars use the A10 Zuid in the direction of Utrecht every hour. During the 11-day closure of the A4 and A10 Zuid, that traffic is being diverted via the A5 and A9 starting from the Badhoevedorp interchange. These roads will struggle to cope with this many vehicles. Because of that, any breakdown will quickly result in major delays, which we wish to avoid. This is why two emergency towing companies will be standing by to deal with or tow away breakdowns.
Lessons from the past
During previous closures of the A4 and A10 Zuid, rapid emergency recovery proved crucial in reducing delays. This is why the location of the towing vehicles matters so much, because they themselves need to avoid becoming stuck in traffic during any incidents. ‘It’s quite possible to predict in advance where the bottlenecks are and therefore where we should be waiting on standby’, says Sander Vlaar, the director of one of the companies. ‘But as soon as the first breakdown happens, it all becomes one big moving puzzle and we have to make continual adjustments in consultation with our people out on the road.’
The partial closure of the A10 Zuid is a complicated traffic management operation that even includes the use of eleven additional monitoring cameras. There will also be an operational traffic management centre in Zuidas itself, right next to the AFC football club pitches. In addition to traffic managers from Rijkswaterstaat (Public Works Department), the police, experts from Amsterdam and Amstelveen and highway inspectors will also be on hand, ensuring that there are many eyes constantly monitoring traffic flow. The emergency towing companies are in addition to that. ‘That’s even more eyes to see what’s going on’, says Vlaar.
The deployment of 45 traffic controllers, eight police motorcyclists and the emergency services calls for effective coordination. Vlaar: ‘Obviously, we don’t want two breakdown trucks heading to the same accident. We also need to be able to change our standby locations if needed.’ A breakdown in which the vehicle is still intact is relatively easy. Vlaar and his team are capable of dealing with three of them in an hour. ‘But if you add two more serious accidents to that – and they’re also a long distance away from each other – you need to make some serious choices. Which one should we go to first? That’s why we have to be really quick towing away vehicles.’
Every breakdown or accident involves one or more real people. ‘We feel it’s important not only to deal with the vehicles, but also to ensure that the people in them are quickly taken away to safety’, says Vlaar. ‘Our trucks have five comfortable seats in the cabin for people who need a lift. Although our job is to tow away vehicles, it’s ultimately people that we’re helping.’
Between 23 July and 3 August, the emergency towing companies will be standing by on the roads around Zuidas from 07.00 to 10.00 and 15.00 to 19.00 on weekdays to keep the roads clear of breakdowns. During the weekends, they will be on standby from 10.00 until 18.00.