A 700-metre-long stretch of a dual carriageway road lies abandoned in the town of ’s-Hertogenbosch. A long time ago this used to be the main route to Nijmegen (via Hintham). The asphalt is starting to crack but the lines and arrows on the surface have never been removed. The road hasn’t been used since 2001, at least not by motor traffic. The cycleway next to it was upgraded and its smooth red asphalt is used by many school children on their bicycles. What is the story here?
The road and the houses next to it were constructed immediately after World War II. The road had been opened in 1946.
Immediately after World War II the city of ’s-Hertogenbosch built a new road to the east, to Nijmegen. The road was opened in 1946 and was a dual carriageway road at most places. It connected the town to the village of Hintham and from here it led to Rosmalen, Oss and further east. The main road was narrow in that village of Hintham. But in 1946 – before the construction of motorways – that was how main roads were designed and constructed. The motorways (freeways), that the Netherlands started to build later, went around towns and cities. But this road still connected directly to the village main street. It took until 2010 before the actual motorway from ’s-Hertogenbosch in the direction of Nijmegen was finished, but already in the 1990s the main flow of traffic was diverted from this road to the existing motorway (A2/A59) around ’s-Hertogenbosch. That made it possible to downgrade this former route and that is exactly what was done. A new bypass north of Hintham (that had become part of ’s-Hertogenbosch in 1996) was constructed around the turn of the century. The new road was never meant to carry the volumes of traffic that the old road had carried and it has therefore become “just” a 2-lane road; one traffic lane in each direction. Completely in line with the then new Sustainable Safety policies it was built away from where people live their lives. It has no other function than to get many vehicles from A to B fast. There is no parking, there are no end-destinations. The new road was opened in 2001, but how do you get people to use that new bypass, that is also 500 metres longer than the original road? The answer is simple: close the old route, at least partly. The 700-metre-long stretch of closed road then seemed forgotten. It was almost untouched ever since. The big trees lining that old road kept growing and have created a kind of eerie tunnel over the abandoned tarmac. There are still lines on the asphalt, some arrows to indicate turning lanes and there is even the word “BUS” at one location. Nobody really gets why nothing was ever done with this space. Especially the residents of the homes alongside the old road. Normally you would have a plan when you redesign something, for what to do with the old location, but in this case – even though the road is designated as “park” in the area’s current land use plan – nothing, absolutely nothing, was done in the first 14 years after this road was closed.