Motorway capacity expansion projects are prominent causes for contestation. From a large technical systems (LTS) perspective, the concept of 'momentum' can be deployed to investigate social appraisals associated with such projects. Momentum is the end stage in LTS development, designating stabilization in the coevolution of social and technical system elements. In large-scale road infrastructure planning, momentum becomes manifest in the assumed inevitability of capacity expansion. Yet, as it remains unclear how momentum is confronted by situated actors, particularly within the remit of deliberative planning, this paper investigates the manifestation of momentum in the social appraisals of civil society actors involved in deliberating a case of 'inevitable' large-scale infrastructure planning. By using an exemplary case of a project on motorway capacity expansion in the Netherlands, it was investigated how momentum was acknowledged by actors, but perhaps also resisted or sustained. The paper finds that actors were quite aware of momentum, but that they largely refrained from resisting it as a result of the focus on impact mitigation in the deliberation. Furthermore, this focus sustained the necessity claim and underlying rationale for the motorway capacity expansion. However, the choice of whether to resist or sustain momentum could have been strategically motivated. The paper recommends that further practice and methodological research should focus on the challenges of teasing out social appraisals on momentum in the deliberative planning context.
- large-scale road infrastructure planning
- social appraisal civil soceity actors