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The A10 Orbital Motorway
With its length of 32 kilometres, the A10 is Amsterdam’s longest building. Its construction took almost thirty years. The first section of this motorway, which in addition to the Coentunnel also comprised the Coentunnel trajectory between the tunnel and Bos en Lommerplein, was opened in 1966. This was followed by the rest of the Western A10 and the Southern, Eastern and Northern sections, in that order. In 1990, the final segment, the Zeeburgertunnel, was opened to traffic and so the orbital was complete.
As a consequence of its exceptional length, the A10 passes through a wide variety of urban environments and for this reason alone it is extremely interesting, for example, as a guide for exploring the city. The A10 passes the IJ and the Amstel, residential districts, business parks, dock areas, urban lobes and green wedges. From the road, the city and the outlying area are hidden behind noise barriers and trees one moment, and are fleetingly glimpsed or revealed in panoramic views the next. In a few places, a two-sided Panorama Mesdag, on the scale of a fledgling metropolis, unfolds before the eyes of the road user.
The A10 is a structure whose appearance constantly changes: some sections are located in tunnels, are sunken or are at ground level, while other sections are carried on dikes, bridges and viaducts. Its width ranges from approximately thirty metres on stretches of the Western A10, to three hundred metres on the Southern A10. The A10 is crossed 114 times by a wide variety of traffic routes, below and above the road and sometimes at grade. Along the roadside, up against and right next to the motorway embankment is an unexpected green world of tiny parks, dog exercise areas, jeu de boules pitches and children’s farms. Hidden away underneath the A10 are several nuclear fallout shelters that were built during the Cold War era. A secret space for a railway tunnel that was never built is a popular location for clandestine dance parties.
There is currently a whole raft of plans for the A10, all of which are aimed at improving the connection between the worlds on either side of the motorway and at integrating this road more successfully in the city. This task takes many different forms and countless proposals have been put forward: for example, dock models, continuous development along city radials, ecological ribbons, artworks in underpasses. Other projects have to do with traffic streams on the A10, and so move, as it were, with the road. Most of these are responses to changes in traffic intensity and include plans for road expansions, but also ideas for environmental facilities and speculative proposals to downgrade the motorway to an urban boulevard in places. (ARCAM/DW)