Socially responsible renovation of Heinenoord tunnel

The Heinenoord tunnel has been in use since 1969 and comprises part of the highway network along the A29 route. It forms a crucial link between South Holland and West Brabant and approximately 110,000 vehicles pass through the tunnel every day. Over the years, various maintenance works have been carried out to extend the life of the tunnel, with respect to both its physical structure and its technical installations. Despite this, these installations are approaching the end of their lifespan and the tunnel requires thorough renovation.

The physical structure of the tunnel is still in relatively good condition. In order to get the entire tunnel back to the required level - and keep it there - Rijkswaterstaat (the Directorate-General of Public Works and Water Management) issued a request for tenders for a major refurbishment in the form of a societally responsible renovation project. This project is intended to ensure that the tunnel remains safe and reliable, while also maintaining its accessibility for the public. The intention is that the renovation be carried out with as little inconvenience as possible.

In 2018 Witteveen+Bos, together with subconsultants Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) and Covalent, submitted a tender through Rijkwaterstaat’s Engineering Services 3 Cooperation Agreement. TEC was founded in 1988 as a partnership between RHDHV and Witteveen+Bos and works on high-profile and large-scale tunnel projects both nationally and internationally. As a result of achieving the best EMVI score (price-quality ratio), Witteveen+Bos, TEC and Covalent were awarded the contract.

Renovating the Heinenoord tunnel in a societally responsible manner involves more than a standard renovation of the tunnel would. The project also aims to specifically investigate sustainability, as well as the application of renewable energy, circularity, and developments in innovation.

Middle corridor

Accessibility is an important prerequisite: the renovation must be carried out with as little disruption as possible. The replacement of the installations and systems will therefore take place simultaneously, with the tunnel remaining accessible to as much traffic as possible. This means the new installations and systems will be installed while the old ones continue to function. Only once everything has been tested and is functioning properly will the old installations and systems be removed. To make this possible it is necessary to first build the tunnel’s middle corridor. In this corridor, the cables, pipes, and some of the tunnel’s technical installations will be placed, as well as an escape passage which can be used in the event of an emergency.

3B Building Block for Tunnels

The vast majority of the tunnel’s technical installations would have reached the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced by around 2024. The individual sub-installations can no longer be serviced separately, partly because the central operation, monitoring and control system (3B) also needs to be replaced. The tunnel and both service buildings will therefore be completely renovated. This will be done in accordance with Rijkwaterstaat’s National Tunnel Standard (LTS).

Part of the project is also the development and realisation of a generic 3B building block for tunnels (in both software and hardware forms). 3B stands for ‘operation, monitoring and control’ (in Dutch: 'bediening, bewaking en besturing'). This generic building block will serve as a blueprint for the 3B systems of subsequent tunnel renovation projects. It is also a further step towards standardisation in accordance with the LTS.


This project is intended to act as a springboard. The renovation of the Heinenoord tunnel forms part of the national programme of Replacement and Renovation (VenR). This programme will see eight tunnels in South Holland fitted out with new and standardised operation, monitoring and control systems - and/or technical installations - over the coming years.

Part of the task for Witteveen+Bos was to come up with a well-balanced and integrated Design, Contract & Maintain (DCM) tender for the realisation of this assignment. A two-phase approach was chosen, in which we made agreements regarding design solutions, planning, risks and costs with the contractor partnership selected for the project, Savera III. This allows for a feasible approach to the project’s execution.

Integrated project team

Together with Rijkswaterstaat we formed an integrated project team. This involves cooperation in the fields of project management and supervision, information provision and environmental, contract and technical management. Witteveen+Bos was at the forefront during the preparation and tender processes and provides guidance throughout the realisation of the project. The scope of the work is multidisciplinary and includes (among other aspects):

  • electrical and mechanical installations
  • industrial automation
  • accessibility plans
  • civil and architectural structures
  • integrated and tunnel safety
  • sustainability and circularity
  • stakeholder management
  • conditioning studies (flora and fauna, soil, archaeology, and NGE).

Digital Twin

A Digital Twin of the Heinenoord Tunnel has also been created. The physical tunnel was scanned using a laser to allow a digital model to be created. Virtual reality software makes it possible to navigate through the tunnel virtually, creating an almost identical experience to being physically present. The Digital Twin will be further developed in collaboration with the contractor during the realisation phase.


Due to the project’s tight schedule, it was clear to all involved that things had to keep moving during the covid pandemic. Putting the project on hold or delaying it was not an option. Owing to the flexibility of the teams involved in implementing a new, largely digital approach, we quickly established a new way of working, in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat.

From 2018 to 2020, the studies and draft documents were drawn up. The tender process for the project was started in January 2020.  The tender process has since been successfully completed and resulted in the selection of Savera III. The renovation will take place in 2023 and 2024.

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