Minister defends highway lighting shutdown

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Minister of Infrastructure and Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen announced in Parliament today the lights of a number of freeways will stay off after 23:00. Her announcement was a response to a request of PVV and CDA to reevaluate the measure.

An article in newspaper AD claimed turning off the freeway lights doesn't save any money, instead it costs money.

The measure aims to save 0.6 million euros annually, but currently expenses for contractors to manually turn on lights on sections for maintenance or in case of an emergency, cost about 2 million euros annually.

Undoing the measure is not an option, according to Schultz, who confirms the statements made by AD. In June at the latest, Rijkswaterstaat should have the equipment needed to remotely turn on and off freeway lights. For the time being, the Minister chooses to suffer the losses. Schultz expects to save 34 million euros until 2020, according to her calculations.

PVV and CDA, who worry about unsafe situations on the roads, claim to receive many complaints about the lights on the freeway being out, especially by elderly. Recently the measure was adjusted to where the lights go off at 23:00 instead of 21:00. Schultz is convinced the lights can safely be turned off, especially since it's only done on roads where there's not a lot of traffic. Besides, it's good for the environment, according to the Minister.