Protests expected to result in busy evening rush hour

Traffic on the A1 at De Lutte after protesting farmers blocked the border crossing, 18 December 2019
Traffic on the A1 at De Lutte after protesting farmers blocked the border crossing, 18 December 2019Rijkswaterstaat, @RWSverkeersinfoTwitter

As protesting farmers and construction workers caused traffic problems in multiple places in the Netherlands throughout the day, the expectation for evening rush hour looks pretty bleak. At 3:55 p.m. there were still 41 areas of traffic jams, affecting about 165 kilometers of roadway according to infrastructure authority Rijkswaterstaat.

"Dozens of fines were issued during the day and a multitude of tractors were removed from the road," police said in a statement.

Demonstrations or roadblocks preventing the demonstrations were affecting traffic at the German border on the A7, at the A15 between Nijmegen and Gorinchem, also on the A28 between Zwolle, Amersfoort and Hoogeveen. The reverse route on the A28 was also affected, as well as the A37 from the Holsloot junction to Hoogeveen. 

"In the north, east and south there are still go-slow actions from farmers in various places. Take delays into account," the ANWB said. "Depending on how long the actions last, they can also cause problems during the evening rush hour."

On Wednesday, farmers and construction workers protested against the government's measures to reduce nitrogen emissions. The bulk of the actions involved go-slows with tractors and construction vehicles on the highways. Traffic problems lasted throughout the day. The A1 at De Lutte, towards the German border was brought to a complete standstill for some time when farmers blocked the border crossing. This blockade was ended after demonstrators met with authorities.

"What we are focusing on today is, in particular, safety and ensuring that the emergency lane remains open both for freight traffic and emergency services. That is important," a police spokesperson told RTV Oost

The border crossing in Drenthe between Schoonebeek and Emlichheim was also blocked by farmers who parked the tractors across the road. 

The problems also did not remain limited to the highway. Protesting farmers blocked access to the station square in Groningen, resulting in canceled and delayed buses throughout the day, according to RTV Noord. Tractors blocked access to an Arriva bus station in Den Bosch. A large number of tractors went to protest at Mediapark in Hilvesum. Mayor Pieter Broertjes told NOS that he hopes the farmers will depart swiftly after their action "Because Hilversum is currently deadlocked", he said at around 12:30 p.m.

Despite a court order not to block access to supermarket distribution centers, farmers still went to protest at an Albert Heijn distribution center in Tilburg and a Jumbo distribution center in Veghel. They drove slow circles around the centers for aroun​d an hour. "Farmers aren't blockading anything, but because they are driving slowly back and froth, traffic piles up and trucks can no longer drive on or off", a NOS reporter said from Veghel. 

Police were forced to intervene at a Jumbo distribution center in Breda. According to broadcaster Omroep Brabant, farmers were told their tractors would be impounded if they did not disperse. At that moment they left immediately, a police spokesperson told the broadcaster.

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