Antwerp Oosterweel knot and new Royers lock works to start
On Monday, the construction works of the Oosterweel knot in Antwerp, connecting the future Scheldt tunnel with the channel tunnels, have officially started. Also, the works to renovate and enlarge the Royers lock can start. Flemish Minister of Mobility, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), was invited on Monday to lay – or rather remove – the first symbolic stones.
“The Royers lock is more than a hundred years old and needs replacement,” Minister Peeters explained. “It has been out of service for a while. By making it longer and wider, it will be accessible for larger ships. It can be the entrance gate between the Scheldt and the Albert Channel and help us to get more transport off the road.” The new lock will be 230 m long (now it’s 180 m) and 36 m wide (now 22 m).
On the Oosterweel project, works can start on the junction complex – the so-called Oosterweel knot – to give the southern part of the Antwerp harbor and the so-called ‘Eilandje’ direct access to the Ring. It will be the link between the tunnels under the River Scheldt and the Albert Channel, to be completed by 2030.
New drains and sewers will be installed in the coming months, and traffic in both directions will be diverted on one lane. During the first quarter of 2022, trees will be unrooted to install temporary roads. The preparation of the temporary Oosterweel road will start in the second quarter of 2022. Minister Peeters is pleased with the start of the works. “This is an important moment for our economy, inland shipping, mobility, and the region.”
The Oosterweel project is intended to close the Antwerp Ring. Most parts of the new cross-river connection for regional, urban, and local traffic are situated underground. Entries and exits to and from the port of Antwerp are located near the North Castle, where the Ring comes up to the surface again.
Experts are still analyzing whether it should be covered. The new connection will decrease traffic to the Groenendaallaan and Schijnpoort drastically.
The Oosterweel project is highly complex, and in the past few years, its plans have gradually undergone a metamorphosis. “Today, we’re lowering the threshold between the harbor and the city. As a result, we’re working on better mobility and livability in one of the most important port towns in the world,” concludes David van Herreweghe, president of the board at Lantis, project manager.