Wallonia invests 1,5 billion euro in road and cycling infrastructure
The Walloon Government has adopted a new infrastructure plan that aims at modernising all that touches on mobility, from roads to cycling paths and public transport. Between 2019 and 2024, 1,5 billion euro will be invested. Goals include better and safer roads, 800 km of cycling paths, 100 km of specific bus roads and a 10% increase in river transport.
Back in 2010, Wallonia invested 500 million euro in its ‘Road Plan’. Six years later, 640 million were allocated for motorways in four years. Today, the Walloon Government is going all out with 1,5 billion euro. “We’re facing an under-investment”, explains Minister-President, Willy Borsus, “in the 70’s, we invested 5% of the GDP into roads. In 2015, that rate was down to less than 2,4%.”
792 million for roads
The major part of the budget will be allocated to secondary roads. Not only will it help repair the rubbish road surface, but it also integrates an approach on pedestrians and cyclists.
“In addition to the plan, we’ve reserved an extra amount of 15 million euro per year for the maintenance of cycling paths”, explains Minister Carlo Di Antionio (CDh). In total, 800 km of cycling paths should be created or freed up.
Motorways, trees and buses
The Walloon highway network will benefit from a 300 million euro investment. Let’s note that the recent ‘Light Plan’, changing all 63.810 light poles to LED, isn’t part of that budget. A small 2,5 million euro will be dedicated to enhancing motorways, roads and the air. Indeed, more than 20.000 trees and hedges should be put up along the tarmac.
Soft mobility has also its part reserved in this new plan. 78 million euro will be invested in the construction of dedicated sites for buses. They will be designed to unclog roads and increase the buses traffic flow. Minister Di Antonio informs that it concerns more than 100 km of road.
+10% for waterways
River transportation is, more than ever, seen as one of the best ways to transport freight in a quiet and clean(er) way. Today, more than 41 tons are transported every year on the Walloon rivers. The 2019-2024 plan aims at increasing this share by 10%.
350 million euro will be invested in the enhancement of river infrastructure. The construction of the Ampsin-Neuville lock (182 million euro) is included. Maintenance and dredging are also planned and included with 17 million euro.
Where does the money come from?
1,52 billion euro isn’t a small amount and it proves that Wallonia really is putting the hammer down on better mobility. A third of the budget (438 million) will come from the conventional loans granted to the ‘Mobility and Infrastructure’ service.
For the rest, the Sofico (Walloon infrastructure finance public company) will put 150 million euro every year, or 900 million euro in total. The truck kilometre tax is helping to pay for the major part of the bill.