30 October 2019

Project Management: Managing the Netherlands’ biggest PPP program

30 October 2019

Country context

The Schuphol-Amsterdam-Almere (SAA) program is the largest PPP program in the Netherlands in the last decade. The aim of the project is to reduce traffic jams, improve accessibility to northern Randstad and decrease traffic noise along the corridor. It involves the construction of additional lanes covering a distance of 63 kilometres (km) and 33km of extra barriers and asphalt to reduce noise levels.

The Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) has collaborated on this blog with Linda Lesterhuis, Senior PPP Advisor at Rijkswaterstaat, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water in the Netherlands, as part of a blog series on Project Preparation using case studies from the GI Hub’s Reference Tool on Governmental Processes Facilitating Infrastructure Project Preparation.

Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) is the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (MIWM) in the Netherlands. RWS is responsible for project preparation and procurement of the construction and maintenance of the main roads network, the waterway network and major water systems. It also undertakes project development and implementation on behalf of the MIWM.

A holistic approach to project development

For large infrastructure projects, the Netherlands has adopted a particularly collaborative approach, namely the Multi Year Programme for Infrastructure, Spatial Planning and Transport (MIRT), developed by the MIWM. MIRT comprises infrastructure projects and programs in which the national and regional governments collaborate to find a common solution to specific problems, after conducting analysis from different perspectives and development objectives. For more information on the problem-oriented approach adopted under the MIRT, see the Netherlands Case Study in the GI Hub’s Reference Tool on Governmental Processes Facilitating Project Preparation.

For every project in the MIRT greater than €60 million, a financial comparison is made between a public and private financial approach of the project[1] .

Promoting sustainability through the SAA program

Infrastructure is an important driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development and quality infrastructure (QI) has been a strong focus under the G20 Japanese Presidency in 2019[2]. The future development of the (largest) economic region in the Netherlands depends on the mobility on the Schiphol-Amsterdam-Almere (SAA) route. Therefore, the Ministry of Transport initiated the SAA program in 2010. The goal of the program is to build sustainable infrastructure, which entails an improvement of the accessibility of the region, as well as improvement of the quality of life, for people, animals and plants. These goals align with many of the QI focus areas found in the GI Hub’s Reference Guide on Output Specifications for Quality Infrastructure, including sustainability and longevity, social impacts and inclusiveness, environmental impacts, and alignment with economic and development strategies.

Project specifics

The main projects of the SAA program are PPPs procured with DBFM contracts, whereby the contractor is responsible for the Design, Build, Financing and Maintenance of the project. The financing of the project is based on the principles of project financing, with availability payments as the main driver.

Project name

A1-East / A1 Diemen


A1/A6 Diemen – Almere Havendreef


A9 Holendrecht – Diemen


A6 Almere Havendreef – Almere Buiten-Oost


A9 Badhoevedorp – Holendrecht



8km highway,12km of noise barriers, reconstruction of 13 viaducts

23km highway (including express lane), 60 new viaducts and bridges, including

Europe’s largest aqueduct and the Netherlands’ longest railway bridge in one span.

7 km highway (including express lane) and 3km land tunnel with a park on top

13km highway and area development. It’s the first energy neutral highway in the Netherlands.



11km highway, 12km noise barriers and reconstruction of 1.3km ‘sunken’ highway



2012 – 2014

2014 – 2018 (open to traffic in 2017)

2015 – 2020


2017 – 2019/20 (open to traffic in 2019)

2020 - 2026

Contract type

Design and Build

DBFM, 25-year maintenance period

DBFM, 20-year maintenance period

DBFM, 20-year maintenance period

DBFM, 14-year maintenance period


Cadicom: Dura Vermeer, Besix en Cofely

SAAone: VolkerWessels, Boskalis, HOCHTIEF and DIF

IXAS: Ballast Nedam, Heijmans, Fluor and 3i


Parkway6: Dura Vermeer and BESIX


Still in tender

Size (€ CAPEX)

€ 0,1 bn

€ 0,7 bn

€ 0,6 bn

€ 0,1 bn


A1/A6 Diemen – Almere Havendreef

Aqueduct Railway bridge
Aqueduct                                                 Railway bridge

A9 Holendrecht – Diemen

Before construction commenced What it will look like when complete
Before construction commenced             What the project will look like when complete

Introducing the IPM project management model

To manage these challenging infrastructure projects, RWS uses the Integral Project Management (IPM) model. RWS started using this model in 2005 to deal with the increasing complexity of, and political and public attention for, large infrastructure projects. The RWS organisation itself also changed, becoming smaller and more market oriented, rather than technical. RWS transferred greater responsibility to the private sector and began managing projects more remotely.

The essence of IPM is recognising the different angles of approach within a project and acknowledging these different angles have different stakeholders and concerns. An IPM project team consists of five key roles:

1. Project manager,
2. Project controller;
3. Contract manager;
4. Stakeholder manager; and
5. Technical manager.

Risk management, which is a facilitating process, is at the heart of this model. An important condition for a well-functioning IPM team is to have a safe climate, limiting a culture of fear and encouraging everyone to share information. Team members should feel free to identify risks which can have disastrous consequences for the project. An integral project management approach, the main goal of IPM, can only be reached when all roles are equal whilst considering the different stakes. Only successful cooperation between the various disciplines will lead to a positive project result. In the table below[3] some elements are shown compared to the traditional way of project organisation.

Traditional project organisation

Project organisation using IPM

Pragmatic approach

Uniform and standardised approach

Miscommunication in tasks and roles

Universal language

Project-based management structure: resources are allocated according to projects

Functional management structure: projects are organised according to functional roles

Line manager is not involved in resource allocation and capacity management

Line manager has a central role in resource allocation and capacity management

Autocracy (functions instead of roles): decisions are made authoritatively

Holocracy (roles instead of functions): decisions are made in consensus, dialogue, collaboration

Project manager has a dominant role

Equivalent roles

Project manager selects team members

Line and project manager consider consensus selection of team members

Technical focus: deliver performance based technical solution

Process focus: deliver manageable projects

Available resources

Seek best team approach: people are placed in their strengths

Steered on hard factors

Steered on both hard and soft factors

Predictability, efficiency, teamwork

Two of the biggest challenges of SAA were to come up with a procurement and project management strategy which was manageable for both RWS and the private sector, including investors. SAA decided to split up the program into five different projects and took IPM to another level. In addition, SAA also set up a program managing board. The managing board consists of the program director and three portfolio holders, one dealing with communication and strategy, one with business operations and one with the private sector.

The focus of the SAA program is on Predictability, Efficiency and Teamwork (PET). The basis of the program is that "projects are in the lead" with a simple organisational structure with short lines.

Managing five projects within a program means having the opportunity to capitalise efficiency gains through knowledge sharing, uniformity and flexible deployment of staff. This approach has proven itself to be advantageous for RWS, private sector parties and stakeholders. Stakeholders and private sector parties are approached unambiguously and interfaces between projects are better managed.

More detail on the project preparation landscape in the Netherlands can be found in the GI Hub’s Reference Tool on Governmental Processes Facilitating Infrastructure Project Preparation.


[1] For more information on The Netherlands’ Approach to Identifying/Screening PPP Projects, please visit https://olc.worldbank.org/content/attractive-environment-netherlands-approach-identifyingscreening-ppp-projects-0

[2] To search for resources and facilities related to quality infrastructure investment, please visit the Quality Infrastructure Investment Database, an initiative of the G20, the GI Hub, the OECD and the World Bank, at https://www.gihub.org/quality-infrastructure-database

[3] Source: More information at IPM (English)