Renewing infrastructure networks: new challenge, new approach?

Jannes Willems, Tim Busscher, Arjan Hijdra, Eric Arts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Western countries are increasingly confronted with redeveloping transportation infrastructure systems. From a Large Technical System (LTS) perspective, this marks a new phase for infrastructure systems and according new policies. This article, on the one hand, reflects on the development of infrastructure policies and, on the other hand, explores new policy directions. A policy analysis of the Dutch national inland waterway system is put central, as it is a topical example of an aging infrastructure network. Central in the analysis is the idea of congruence – reflected in ‘matches’ or ‘mismatches’ – between the technical system, i.e. physical assets, and the social system, i.e. institutions and policies. LTS approaches typically distinguish four succeeding phases: establishment, expansion, maturity and renewal. The system’s state in each phase has an own geographical scale, time horizon and functionality. Our analysis demonstrates that the congruence in the inland waterway system has changed considerably. In the establishment phase, the Dutch inland waterway network was strongly regionally oriented. During the 20th Century, the network has heavily expanded. Novel techniques and a strong, central coordinative authority contributed to this, changing the focus from regional linkages to the complete network. From the 1970s, a more integrative approach emerged, in which transportation aims were combined with ecological and spatial issues. This phase of maturity focused particularly on the quality of the network, instead of the quantity. Since 2010, the question is arising how to deal with aging network components. New pathways by governmental agencies that are being explored consider a longer time horizon, incorporating uncertainties, and question the functionality of the network. Yet, current policies reflect this only to a limited extent. Consequently, the move towards a phase of renewal seems to create a potential mismatch between the state of the infrastructure and its policies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransport Research Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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