Long-Term Noise Mitigation Programme: improving quality of life together (5/50)
Together with the Arcadis engineering firm, M+P is investigating the best measures for the central government to mitigate noise pollution from road traffic. The goal: to truly improve the quality of life of local residents.
Concerns about the noise of road and rail traffic go back a long way. From 1979, the Noise Abatement Act [Wet geluidhinder] was intended to prevent nuisance for people living near roads and railways. But in the 1980s, the road network grew so sharply that some residential areas are always shrouded in a blanket of noise. With the introduction of the Environmental Management Act [Wet milieubeheer] in 2012, the central government decided to tackle the real bottlenecks once and for all and ensure that noise levels throughout the Netherlands meet minimum requirements. Rijkswaterstaat has instructed M+P to study the necessary measures for this mega job: the Long-Term Noise Mitigation Programme [Meerjarenprogramma Geluidsanering]. ‘The mitigation plans are almost complete,’ says director and senior advisor Jan Hooghwerff proudly. ‘They can be implemented soon.’
‘M+P may be a relatively small player, but we played a key role in this project,’ Jan explains. ‘Together with Arcadis, a large engineering firm, we were awarded one of the three lots put out to tender by Rijkswaterstaat, roughly the provinces of Utrecht and South Holland. The contract also included that the market parties involved from all three lots together had to define the principles for the new noise regulations for the weighing up of possible measures, ranging from two-layer porous asphalt (PA) to noise barriers. So that the available budget is used optimally to reduce noise pollution in the tens of thousands of affected homes. We took the lead in drawing up these principles. Our strength lies in creative ideas like that.’
‘Together with Arcadis, we form a strong combination with a great team of experts: noise specialists, designers, environmental managers and cost experts,’ Jan continues. ‘We complement each other well. Whereas Arcadis has the capacity to keep such a large project manageable, we provide more continuity, in-depth knowledge of noise regulations and quality assurance. My role, for example, is that of technical manager. I like being able to make the connection between project management and operational work. I help to make and adjust a project plan, but I also understand the technical questions of the noise specialists. It is nice for them to have such a contact person. This way, we offer each other real added value.’
Bridge to local residents
This bridge function typifies M+P. Between the two firms, but also towards the client and the residents of the homes studied. Jan: ‘Noise pollution is more than just decibel levels. For example, it also depends on the type of noise: do you have a lot of motorbikes passing, or lorries? That’s why we had a lot of contact with municipalities and local residents in the beginning to collect wishes and to gauge their attitude towards the various measures. And afterwards, we made information available about the technical considerations and explained in plain language why we make certain choices. This way, we do everything we can to ensure that people’s quality of life really improves.’