Nijmegen road network in good hands
The Municipality of Nijmegen and Heijmans have been working together for many years on maintaining and renewing the asphalt in the oldest city in the Netherlands. They have recently signed a new asphalt maintenance contract until 2019. Why is this collaboration working so well and why is Heijmans the ideal partner? We ask Regional Director Johan ter Horst of Heijmans and Frans Meussen of the Municipality of Nijmegen.
February 22, 2017
Straight through the centre of the city
Frans: “The maintenance contract started in May 2016 but prior to that Heijmans had already been our maintenance partner for five years. During those five years we managed to complete as much as ten years of work together, that’s how many projects we worked on. Exceptional. On top of that, many of the main roads here go straight through the centre of the city. The local residents and the accessibility of shops and businesses are very important to the municipality. Intensive high quality local communication is therefore required.
Due to the good collaboration with Heijmans we were able to work day and night on the main roads on some projects. Heijmans puts a great deal of thought into these projects and is an important and reliable contact for the area. That is worth a great deal to us. Working in the middle of the city is not something for just anyone to take on.”
“Our organisation offers very flexible deployment options”, says Johan. “We have many people originating from this region who know the situation in the city very well. The same team has been together for many years. There have been some changes, but the core has always remained the same. These people can react swiftly, help resolve problems and be on site quickly. This is how we can best serve the needs of the municipality.
Usually the projects remain on the planning a little longer but sometimes you just have to react swiftly. We can plan the projects mostly ourselves, the municipality has confidence in us. Moreover, we jointly apply the rule ‘a deal is a deal’. We also fulfil these deals together. The short reporting lines enable us to do that. That works very well.”
"The commitment shown by everyone at the time still makes me feel very proud.” Frans Meussen, the municipality of Nijmegen
An example is the Berg en Dalseweg, which is a three-kilometre long main road in East Nijmegen. Frans: “The plan was to replace the asphalt in two phases. It had to be done in phases because the maintenance budget was limited. However, there were increasing complaints from local residents and road users. The alderman stepped in and the work had to be carried out quickly after all.
Not only that, but we had to start within a week. On Friday we called Heijmans and on Tuesday the first machine was already milling off the asphalt. During the work we decided to not only renew the bad sections but the entire road. The best thing was that, after taking traffic measures, Heijmans was able to keep part of the road open at all times throughout the work. Because everything went quickly there were relatively few complaints. In a matter of ten days the old asphalt had been removed. We then drew up a plan together with a detailed phasing of house number to house number.
The people of Heijmans going from door to door, letters to residents, stickers on hundreds of parked cars, 20 traffic controllers, mobile signs, shuttle buses to Sint Maartenskliniek... that’s how we did it. The commitment shown by everyone at the time still makes me feel very proud.”
Room for alternative solutions
This plan offers plenty of room for innovations and other solutions. Johan: “We are now coming up with ideas about the asphalt construction for planned projects. We have asphalt mixtures that are economically cheaper and more sustainable for certain types of road. This enables some projects to be carried out below the budget ceiling, while the quality remains at least the same. Technically, we can always make it work, but it is more important how we make it work and how it is experienced. Attention for everything we do is what we need to convey. Because out there is where the work really has to take place.”
Recently an entirely new asphalt construction consisting of three layers had to be applied to a section of road. Frans: “We requested a proposal for the asphalt mixture in terms of sustainability and longevity. After an investigation by Heijmans it appeared that the road had a thinner layer of asphalt than was thought with a rubble surface underneath that was still in good condition. We then gathered around the table and decided to apply Recoflex. That meant we only had to remove the layer of asphalt and replace it with a new layer of 4.5 cm Recoflex. It resulted in less nuisance for the environment and we were able to carry out the work within one week instead of 2.5 weeks.
Old materials were left intact, less asphalt was removed, less asphalt was applied but with more sustainability. That was a win-win situation for everyone. That is pragmatic and circular thinking at the same time. We were able to carry out more work with the same budget.”
In recent years a good relationship has been established with the municipality. Heijmans knows exactly what the municipality wants when they receive a request. Johan: “That saves a lot of time and we can work faster. We have put in a lot of effort and have paid a great deal of attention to the renewal of the contract. We have focused on this with a permanent team and have written various MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) plans. Eventually we won the contract based on MEAT with a significant financial difference.
The Municipality of Nijmegen radiates genuine market vision in this area. We also work structurally on ‘past performance’. The municipality assesses Heijmans on the work carried out, but they also believe it is important to know what we think of the municipality. Do they plan the work well? Can we propose sufficient alternatives? The municipality places itself in a very vulnerable position in that respect.”