Creation date: December 3, 2009
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani today helped to break ground on works for an urban highway tunnel in Maastricht (the Netherlands) that removes the last traffic lights on a vital trans-European north-south road link. The works are co-funded by the European Commission under the European Economic Recovery Plan* (EERP) Call launched on 30 March 2009. The EERP's TEN-T projects, such as the Maastricht tunnel, aim to boost the European economy by increasing Community investment in strategic sectors such as infrastructure – giving a positive after-effect on European mobility as a whole.
The inauguration ceremony for the Maastricht works was attended by European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Dutch Minister for Transport Camiel Eurlings and Mayor of Maastricht Gerd Leers. The €690 million project, expected to be completed by 2016, consists of building a tunnel within urban Maastricht along the route of the E25/A2 motorway. This will eliminate the last six remaining traffic lights along a route spanning from Amsterdam to Genova and onwards to Palermo, Italy - rendering traffic more fluid along this vital north-south road axis.
By moving traffic underground, the city of Maastricht will also benefit from increased safety, reduced congestion and a decreased environmental impact. Furthermore, the new tunnel will also allow the city to refurbish a large area and connect traffic to the A79 motorway and the Beatrixhaven industrial estate and inland water terminal.
Vice-President Tajani commented, "Today's launch of a key project co-funded by the European Commission exemplifies how effective infrastructure development can positively affect national and international mobility, jump start the economy, as well as improve the life of Maastricht's citizens. The construction of the tunnel will complete a vital TEN-T link connecting northern and southern Europe, and thus further integrate European transport aims."
The Maastricht project was one of 39 successful initiatives benefiting from EERP funding, a programme endorsed by the European Council in December 2008. The EERP is aimed at boosting the European economy during the current economic and financial crisis by increasing Community investment in defined strategic sectors and in particular in infrastructure projects, with the objectives of giving an immediate boost to the economy and at the same time enhancing Europe's longer-term sustainable growth potential. The Maastricht tunnel will receive a contribution from the EU of €15 million.
European funding of infrastructure projects is of paramount importance to re-launch the economy and promote the competitiveness of the continent's industry and also acts as a catalyst for national investments: for every €1 of Community funding, in fact, more than €10 of additional public or private funds will be invested.
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* COM (2008) 800 final