lundi 18 juillet 2011

Blog of the day: July 13th 2011; visit to Rotterdam

This was our last day as a group in The Netherlands. Today we went to the university of Rotterdam and went on a city bike tour with Professor Peter Van Rijn. We also visited the construction site of the new Rotterdam central station district. The day started by once again meeting up at the Delft train station and catching the 8:18 sprinter to Rotterdam Central . 
                                          Train approaching Delft train station

 Once we got to Rotterdam, we were greeted once again by professor Peter Van Rijn and led to the OV-fiets (bike rental) station in order to rent bikes. The group then biked 10 minutes to the Hogeschool Rotterdam where professor Peter Van Rijn teaches sustainable safe road design. We parked our bikes in a secure underground parking facility. The bike stalls had the particularity of having a hook for the front handlebar of the bikes. 

Red electric scooter in the moped/bike parking at U of Rotterdam

Front handlebar bike racks at the Hogueschool of Rotterdam

 Peter Van Rijn also showed us an electric scooter that is currently very popular among his students. The scooter has a range of 100km for a single charge and costs 3500 euros. The machine has a top speed of 35km/h or 25mph.

We went upstairs and proceeded into an auditorium where we were greeted by two current undergraduate engineering students at the university of Rotterdam. They explained to us how they get to school everyday and the details of their degree. In The Netherlands, a bachelors degree is 4 years long, including 20 weeks worth of internships at dutch engineering firms. There are projects every term that must be completed in order to pass the term. They increase in difficulty as you get closer to completing your degree. The last year, students will specialize in one of four disciplines:
  • Construction management
  • Construction design
  • Water works
  • Infrastructure design
The student will then design a project with an engineering firm and a write a project report and thesis that they will present to the class as their capstone project. Most students will go work for one of the firms that they had an internship with once they graduate. Peter Van Rijn then gave us a lecture entitled “Theory of Sustainable Safe Road Design,” which boils down to 5 main principles for the design of sustainable roads. The principles are to prevent as many accidents as possible and to lower the speed difference between cars, pedestrians, and cyclists at intersections in order to reduce the amount of damage that could occur if there was a collision. Therefore at intersections with pedestrians and bicyclists, the speed is limited to 30km/h as opposed to 50km/h for an arterial-arterial car intersection. The Dutch mindset is to design intersections so that 4 to 80 year old's may use them safely.
The five main principles of sustainable road design are functionality, homogeneity, forgiveness, recognition, and determining the status of the road.

Functionality is the distinction between roads of different function types such as arterials as opposed to residential streets. Residential streets would have bricks, 30km/h signs, and other traffic calming devices such as speed humps. This way, the Dutch can easily evaluate the use of the road, whether its used for freight traffic or has a school, and quickly discern what the proper treatment would be.
Homogeneity is taking into account the physical characteristics of the surrounding environment and that of the vehicles on the road. At speeds of 50km/h, the chances of a cyclist surviving an accident with a car is 50%, so the principle states that the modes must be separated at speeds of 50km/h or above.
Forgiveness states that if there is an accident, there should be as minimal damage as possible to the parties involved. Examples might be a raised intersection or a raised bicycle crossing, which forces drivers to slow down as they approach the intersection.
Recognition in The Netherlands is simple since each type of road, whether residential, urban, or arterial is easily identifiable by the speed signs, whether the road is paved or has bricks, and the type of intersections along the road. The idea is that drivers will know exactly how fast they should be going on a road at all times just by the road's features.
The last principle regards to drivers and their ability to react to any oncoming obstacle or situation on the roadway ahead by increasing their field of sight and preventing blind corners.

After lunch, we all went on a bike ride around the city. Our first stop from the Hogeschool Rotterdam was the old ship marina.

     Marina of historical ships at the intersection of Parklaan and Veerhaven.

We then headed south to the Nieuwe Mass where there was a beautiful view of the Erasmus bridge or “The Swan”.  
                                           The Erasmusbrug or nicknamed "The Swan" over the Nieuwe Mass 

From there we headed along the Nieuwe Mass until we got to the escalators leading to the Masstunnel, which is The Netherlands oldest submerged tunnel. 
The Masstunnel. The figure on the left shows the 4 escalators down to the tunnel pictured on the right.

 Once we had reached the other side, there was an unobstructed view of the SS Rotterdam, which was the last cruise liner that made the trip between New York and Rotterdam on a regular basis. 
SS Rotterdam permanently berthed in Mass Haven inlet.

 It now is a 256 bed hotel, with a restaurant and two bars. The group continued biking around Mass Haven inlet until we crossed underneath the metro station Maashaven. 

Maashaven  metro station at the intersection of Brielselaan and Dordtselaan.

Then we headed north to the Erasmus bridge. 
Approaching the Erasmus bridge on Posthumalaan heading North.

The KPN Tower building at the foot of the Erasmus bridge. Note that LED "figures" illuminate the facades of the building.

 We crossed the Erasmus bridge and headed to the downtown, shopping district of Rotterdam. 
Buersplein shopping area seen from Coolslingel. The left image is to east, the right image is to the west.

We ended our bike trip at the Rotterdam Centraal project info centre. The project consists of not only building a new bus terminal, metro station, and railroad station. It also consists of a whole district development project involving several new office or apartment buildings, a new pedestrian corridor from the train station into the city center, even a 760 underground car parking garage that is accessible via the new Weena road tunnel underneath the pedestrian corridor. 

Weenatunnel looking towards the new pedestrian plaza. Model of new bus terminal and station entrance

 The old Rotterdam central train station opened in 1957 and had a capacity of 60000 passengers. In 2000, there was 100000 passengers using the station, all being squeezed down an 8m wide transfer hall. The new transfer hall will be 50 m wide and will boast shops and restaurants. In order to construct the train bridges over the new underground passageway without disrupting traffic, construction workers are using a moving green viaduct as a mold to pour the concrete. 
The green viaduct can be seen underneath the newly finished concrete bridge. 

The new train station will have one glass/ steel roof over all 13 platforms which will have an integrated photovoltaic system. 
The photovoltaic panels on the new station roof
Model of new train station looking south. The roof will cover all platforms and tracks. The point in the background is the station atrium.

The roof is built in sections so as not to disrupt train traffic. The project also consists of building a pedestrian bridge and a 30m high atrium in the main concourse for direct connections to the metro and the 5100 space underground bike garage. 

                      Overview of new roof over platforms 2, 3 and 4 from the new pedestrian bridge.
Model of the main entrance to the train station looking north. In the foreground is Kruisplein (pedestrian corridor) with the Weena tunnel underneath. 

 Currently the steel framework is being put in place for the atrium by the use of a large Mammoet crane.
Video of Mammoet crane used to lift the welded steel structures.

Current status of the construction of the atrium. The steel framework is resting on temporary supports as seen in the right image. Each new steel piece is pre-assembled, then lifted in place at night so as to disrupt the least amount of pedestrian traffic.

 After visiting the construction site, our trip to Rotterdam had ended and the group dispersed, some returning on the next train to Delft and others deciding to stick around the big city of Rotterdam. 

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