Tunnel lighting to respect heritage of this iconic landmark and comply with the latest European safety standards

Opened in 1942, the 1,373m-long Maastunnel was the first immersed tunnel in the Netherlands and Europe. The tunnel crosses the Nieuwe Maas River that flows through the heart of Rotterdam, connecting the north and the south bank. It was unique from other immersed tunnels that had been built in the USA at that time as it was built with a rectangular shape to accommodate the city’s traffic plans. The city wanted a tunnel with four tubes: two tubes for vehicles, one for cyclists and one for pedestrians, which was not possible with a circular profile. On average, 75,000 motorists use the tunnel on a daily basis.

Thanks to its place in engineering history as the first immersed tunnel, the Maastunnel was classified a National Monument in 2012. 

Tunnel renovations to ensure safety

In 2017 - 75 years after opening - the Maastunnel was in dire need of renovations, especially if it was to comply with new Dutch tunnel safety regulations which require emergency exits every 100m for immersed tunnels and European lighting safety standards.

As it is a National Monument, all renovation work had to restore all the authentic elements and ensure that the look and feel were preserved. Rotterdam council appointed Combination Maastunnel Approach, a consortium including Croonwolter&dros, Mobilis and Nico de Bont to manage the renovations.

Tunnel lighting to preserve heritage

As the original lighting with low-pressure sodium lamps provided an orange light, it was important for the local authorities to restore the 1940s atmosphere. Yet safety requirements state that the light in the tunnel must be white in case of an accident or emergency.

We proposed an original smart tunnel lighting solution to meet both requirements and carried out a pilot project to show the local authorities how it would work. We fitted some of the existing luminaires in the tunnel, which were still in good working condition, with amber and white LEDs. The amber LEDs light the tunnel during normal operating hours. The luminaires are controlled by an ATS/Lumgate Controls system which switches on the white LEDs if an incident occurs and the emergency services need to access the tunnel. By combining both types of LEDs, the lighting respects the safety standards while preserving the authentic character of the tunnel. The local authorities were more than satisfied with the results of the pilot project.

In total, 760 of the existing luminaires in the tunnel were retrofitted with the new amber/white LED optics and almost 380 new GL2 COMPACT luminaires were installed. Mounted in bilateral lines on both sides of the 2 tubes for vehicles, they deliver a soft orange light to provide perfect visual guidance so motorists can travel in complete safety and comfort through the tunnel.

FV32 LED luminaires were also installed at the tunnel entrances to provide boost lighting and ensure a smooth transition.



Rotterdam City Council


retrofitted luminaires
energy savings

Tunnel lighting to mark entrance to a national monument

As part of the new safety requirements, the entrances to the tunnels were fitted with jet fans to help motorists safely evacuate the tunnel in the event of a fire and provide emergency crews with smoke-free routes. An additional 30 CONTILED luminaires were installed above these new fans to create a striking feature at the entrance to this national monument. 

Lower operating costs and carbon footprint

Thanks to long life of the LEDs and the robust design of the tunnel luminaires, the new lighting will reduce energy costs by 35%, while ensuring performance for many years to come. 

Maintenance interventions will also be significantly reduced, cutting operating costs even more.

Both the local authorities and residents are delighted with the new lighting which has enabled them to preserve most of the original lighting fixtures and helped to restore the tunnel to its former glory with its nostalgic yellow lighting, with a much lower environmental impact