Kasper Moree, community engagement manager at TriAX, the construction consortium made up of Dura Vermeer, Heijmans and Besix, has been doing the job for a while. But he never gives the impression that his work has become routine. ‘You come across different stakeholders everywhere. It’s always a unique situation and the same applies to the solutions you develop together.’
This also applies to the brand-new construction consortium. ‘The three parties that make up TriAX each bring lots of experience with them, but all three also have their own culture, of course. Despite that, I can see a TriAX identity gradually emerging. It needs to, because especially when the work really starts, you want to be sure you’re up to such a huge project.’ Something that will certainly help is the fact that, in late April, TriAX will have a place of its own, right next to the De Nieuwe Meer interchange, in-between the metro and railway tracks that form a triangle between Amsterdam West and Zuid. ‘We’ll be there together, right on top of our project. And, of course, with our neighbours on either side. I’m convinced that it will make it easier to achieve mutual understanding. For our neighbours to understand our project and vice-versa.’
As a community engagement manager, you have a key role to play. How do you develop trust and understanding?
‘Of course, we’re not starting from scratch. Our commissioning authority, Zuidasdok, already has relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders. They include companies, a yacht club, a tennis club, houseboat residents, road users, etc. It’s important for TriAX to engage with existing contacts, so that we become a familiar face. We plan to do that by organising road shows: we’ll be visiting everyone likely to be affected by the regeneration of the De Nieuwe Meer interchange. Of course, we’ll explain the work we plan to do whenever we meet, but we also intend to listen to what people and organisations have to tell us. That will enable us to build a relationship with our neighbours, provide specific information and find out what factors we need to take into account.’
What are stakeholders likely to notice in the short-term?
‘Very little for now. Most of the work we’re currently doing is still internal. Since we were awarded the project we’ve been working on a definitive design. This involves very precisely mapping not only the interchange itself, but also the Schinkelbrug bridge, for example: exactly how high is the road, how deep is the Schinkel at this point, have things changed that we’re unaware of? The list goes on. We’re conducting all kinds of surveys and investigations, starting at the end of March and lasting at least until the summer. From the summer onwards, we’ll also start vibration monitoring around the buildings in the neighbourhood. That will enable us to monitor any deviations during the work. Despite the fact that this kind of work is hardly noticeable, we’ll still be informing the local community. That’s because we always like to let people know what we’re doing and why.’
When will the first disruption start?
‘It won’t be for a while now. The real work is expected to start in the summer of 2024, but it won’t be a case of immediately pouring concrete, for example. The work will start with logistics, such as setting up construction sites and access roads. ‘There’s already a rough schedule in place that will gradually be fleshed out.’
So what expectations do you have?
‘I expect to find a critical and well-informed local community, because stakeholders have already been at work. Of course, this is a very diverse community. Houseboat residents are very different from businesses or clubs. It will occasionally be necessary to do building work very close to company buildings, so the employees will notice some disruption. But it’s different if you actually live in the neighbourhood, of course. Then, you look to relax at home after work, in a unique location in Amsterdam. That makes you vulnerable, so we need to be extra alert to that. I don’t think any community can be described as ‘difficult’. Everyone is open to reason. We just need to be honest and reliable. The fact is that the work needs to be done and will inevitably cause disruption. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t take account of our neighbours. We may even be able to compromise and cater to specific interests by adapting the way we approach the work, for example. In my experience, this can often be something very minor for a foreman but make a real difference for a stakeholder. What’s most important is to have a proper conversation, based on mutual respect. That way, you get to know each other and trust can develop.’
The reconstruction of the De Nieuwe Meer interchange is part of the Zuidasdok project. There will be a new flyover and we are widening the A10 Zuid from four to six lanes in each direction. We are working to improve traffic flow on the A10 Zuid and make it safer. To make this possible, major changes are required at the De Nieuwe Meer interchange (and later also at the Amstel interchange). We are regenerating Amsterdam Zuid Station and the A10 is being diverted underground at the heart of Zuidas to make room for the expansion of the station.
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