The existing motorway A2 cuts right through the city of Maastricht. Neighbourhoods have been separated, accessibility is bad and traffic problems bad. The new A2 has to solve these problems. The proposal "The plan "Surprising Connections" of the combination “Union of Maastricht”, of which the architects ZJA forms a part, offers far-reaching solutions for improving Maastricht in many areas.

The main connections create a robust whole that guarantees accessibility and free flow of traffic. Areas are united again, networks of public green areas conncet the neighbourhoods, the residential market gets better, and good points are strengthened. The Unie manages to do that by a whole rage of changes:

• A simple tunnel comprising 2x3 lanes is built slightly below ground (street) level. There are no access and exit lanes at Geusselt. Subsequently changing lanes in the tunnel does not occur. This setup promotes the smooth flow of traffic, yields a high level of road safety, reduces both construction time and possible inconvenience during construction and creates more space at street level for ground-oriented housing, East-West links between neighbourhoods and greenery.
• A groundwater drainage system is installed prior to commencement of construction of the tunnel, which prevents any problem caused by a raised groundwater level.
• The new junction of the A2 with the A79 provides motorway level routes in all directions, creates space for a connecting road to Beatrixhaven and gives a splendid view on the city.
• The view merges into the city entrance at Geusselt, where an attractive tunnel entrance is created. Above the tunnel entrance, at ground level, an advanced traffic circle is built, which is readily capable of coping with both current and future levels of traffic.
• The Singel –the city road on top of the tunnel- extends from Geusselt to Europaplein. The Singel facilitates local traffic only, provides numerous East-West connections for motor traffic and slower forms of transport and relieves the area of the noise and air pollution previously present. Part of the Singel consists of a large elongated park that links residential areas and existing and new public gardens. This area has the potential to develop into an exceptional residential area of Maastricht.
• A large elongated square is built between Voltastraat and Frankenstraat, which provides access to Maartenspoort and serves as a suitable venue for markets and events. The property known locally as the Gemeenteflat remains in place as it is a listed building. It offers first time home buyers the opportunity to enter the housing market.
• Similarly to the northern side, the southern end of Maastricht is also given a facelift, comprising an impressive gateway to the city. The landmark building on J.F. Kennedysingel stimulates innovative and high quality enterprise.

The Unie’s plan also provides ample scope for the often softer, though no less significant social values of (local) society, nature and the environment. Energy and natural resources are to be used sparingly, emissions will remain limited, while social cohesion and work opportunities are to be promoted. Incentives promote entrepreneurship and physical activity is encouraged. The Unie considers such aspects essential to the creation of a livable and future-oriented environment in Maastricht.

• The Unie applies the concept of sustainability in the broadest possible sense of the term. Each individual facet of the plan is assessed on this basis. Design proposals are subjected to quantitative assessment – using accredited sustainability models – and optimised in consultation with the designers.
• Inhabitants of Maastricht who have become isolated from the labour market are to be offered new opportunities. Therefore the Unie developed the Social Return Programme in cooperation with ROC Leeuwenborgh. The Unie establishes a Training Company that is closely allied to its applications, and which will offer some 50 traineeship and apprenticeship places annually.
• The substantial amount of residual heat generated in Beatrixhaven is harnessed and used to supply heating and energy to homes, business premises and the Maastricht University Medical Centre (AZM). Annually the emission of CO2 is reduced with some five thousand tons.
• Residents and businesses of eastern Maastricht will benefit from Fibre to the Home. The Unie places the entire infrastructure that enables to supply extremely high tech ICT facilities, such as ultrafast Internet, to households and offices in the area and its broader environs.
• With the aid of the Netherlands Cyclists Association, the Unie offers satisfactory alternatives to motor transport by devoting close attention to cyclist-friendly details and offering services that will promote the use of bicycles.

The nature of the Unie itself is ultimately expressed in its relations with the city and its residents during construction. In a sense, the Unie will also be a citizen of Maastricht for many years. Therefore the combination is keen to be a good citizen: Treating one another with respect and in good faith, while ensuring that no damage is done. The Unie intends to do so by the following means:

• Providing prior information at meetings and in readily accessible media;
• Implementing a traffic management system prior to commencement of construction, which will inform, direct and supervise traffic in such a manner as to ensure optimum use of the available roads according to the circumstances;
• Implementing mobility management in cooperation with the municipal authorities and the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, which ensures that the number of cars using the area during critical hours is minimised;
• Setting up a simple damage report system for dealing with unforeseen cases of damage, managed by a single office and according to a procedure agreed upon in advance.