More new streets, fewer main roads

The Dutch road network increased by a total of nearly 900 kilometres in 2002. Most of the new kilometres were streets, the length of motorways and other major roads remained about the same. The road density is highest in the provinces of South Holland and Limburg.

More roads

At the beginning of 2003 the total length of Dutch roads was more than 132 thousand kilometres. This was an increase of 900 kilometres in 2002, three times the distance between Groningen in the north of the country and Maastricht in the south. In 2001 the total length of Dutch roads even increased by 1,100 kilometres. The management of 90 percent of Dutch roads is the responsibility of municipalities and water boards.

Road network by road management authority, 2003

Road network by road management authority, 2003

New housing estates lead to more streets

Municipalities are responsible for by far most of the finely woven network of streets and local roads. Water boards fulfil this role in parts of the provinces of Zeeland, Utrecht and North and South Holland, mostly for roads outside built up areas. Together they manage 119 thousand kilometres of roads, an increase of 5 thousand kilometres since 1996. New streets in new housing estates have contributed substantially to this growth.

Many major roads have a support function

More than one third of national and provincial roads are not principal roads. These are mostly connecting roads such as motorway slip roads and loops on road junctions. In addition extra lanes for petrol stations, parking areas and services roads account for 6 percent of the total length of these national and provincial roads.

National and provincial roads by function, 2003

National and provincial roads by function, 2003

Length of national and provincial roads hardly increased

The network of major roads has hardly grown: the length of national motorways and major provincial roads increased by 57 kilometres between 1996 and 2003, to 3,260 kilometres. The total length of provincial major roads decreased by 100 kilometres to around 6,800 kilometres. The management of most of these roads was transferred to municipal authorities.

Road length per square kilometre of land, 2003

Road length per square kilometre of land, 2003

Road density highest in South Holland

On average in the Netherlands there are 4 kilometres of road per square kilometre. Obviously, the road density is higher within residential nucleus areas than outside such areas. This may even rise to 15 kilometres of road per square kilometre in municipalities with relatively small non-residential areas. Leiden, Haarlem and Capelle aan den IJssel are examples of such municipalities. The high road density in Limburg is also noticeable. The small scale of the Limburg countryside may play a part in this respect. Only in the province of South Holland is the road net work more finely woven.

Joost Bakker

Source: StatLine (Dutch only)