July 19, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Rebuilding the northern part of the Brussels Ring will cost €3.5 billion

Rebuilding the northern part of the Brussels Ring will cost €3.5 billion

In 2021, it is estimated that between €2 and €2.6 billion will be needed to widen and modernize the northern part of the cordon, from Sint Stephens Woolwey to Groot Bijgarden. Today, that number has suddenly become an additional billion. “In our estimates, we take into account inflation and rising prices for construction materials due to, for example, the war in Ukraine,” explains the office of Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peters (Open VLD). “The project is also more realistic today, as we now have a better view of all the costs.”

Cooperation between the public and private sectors

The Flemish government decided on Friday to establish a public-private partnership (PPP) for the first phase of the redevelopment of the northern part. “This way we distribute the costs and mitigate the budgetary impact of this arena,” explains Maren Struif from De Werkvennootschap.

Concretely, this concerns the section between the Machelen junction with the E19 motorway and the Sint Stephens-Wollow junction with the E40 motorway towards Leuven. Flanders has completely redesigned that part of the ring which was designed and manufactured by a private partner. Work on the first phase is expected to begin in 2026 and will cost 1.2 billion euros.

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Zaventem is the first part of the ring to be redesigned in the long term, and Flanders will take care of the entire northern part. To this end, the Flemish Government approved the Regional Spatial Implementation Plan (GRUP) for the entire project in March.

It is not yet known how long the reconstruction work will take and how much inconvenience it will cause. “We expect the works in the Zaventem area to take about four to five years,” says Struve, “but the exact duration depends on the approach taken by the consortium that we ultimately choose. The consortium that can implement the works faster also scores points, and not just the price. the important.

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Plan less disruption

Struyf also points out that they attach great importance to reducing traffic disruption. “Our tender requires participating companies to submit a ‘disruption minimization plan,’” she says. “We have set minimum requirements, for example, three lanes must remain open for traffic on the ring road. We also demand that the main connections of the ring remain open during the works.

When the section is completed, the Flemish government will pay a so-called availability fee for the use of this section of the loop for thirty years. “The fact that we are including maintenance in the public-private partnership is critical,” Peters Cabinet says. “We have had to clear a lot of maintenance backlog and want to make sure adequate road maintenance is done on the ring road.”

Parallel roads

Between the Sint-Stevens-Woluwe and Machelen intersections, traffic will be separated from local traffic by three lanes, and the parallel road will have two lanes. Later, the section between Machelen and Groot-Beijerden will also be redesigned, which will include a widening of three to four lanes in each direction. Unlike previous plans, there will be no parallel roads.

According to Struve, it is not purely about expanding the ring, but also about modernization, improvement and better integration into the environment. When the works are completed, there should be more green space left. “The loop will take up a little more space in certain parts, but overall more surface area will be removed. We are doing this, for example, at the intersection of St Stephens and Lowe, which will be more compact after the redesign.

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For example, the total price of 3.5 billion also includes the costs of reducing the negative impact of the episode. “$500 million is allocated to quality of life measures such as cycling infrastructure and deeper construction of the ring road so that it has less impact,” Struif explains.

Junction of the A201 and Leonard

At the end of next summer, the Flemish Roads and Traffic Agency will start another project, the reconstruction of the A201 motorway linking Brussels to Zaventem Airport. The intersection with Ring will also be completely overhauled. “There is a certain overlap with the Ring redevelopment, and we expect the construction site on the A201 to take about 3.5 years,” says Struif.

To be clear, the much-discussed works on Vierarmentunnel or Leonard Crossing are not part of this project, they are regular renovations.