Limburg to invest €13 million in ‘coal track’ bicycle highway

The province of Limburg (Belgium) has applied for an environmental permit to construct the ‘Kolenspoor’ (coal track) bicycle highway between Genk and As. The project represents a €13 million investment.

The old coal track connects Maasmechelen with Beringen and runs via Heusden-Zolder, Houthalen-Helchteren, Zonhoven, Genk, and As. The construction of the first 12-km-long stretch, from Genk to As, will be installed first and is planned for 2024.

Seven former coal mines

The ‘Kolenspoor’ bicycle highway (F75) will follow the route of the former 70-km-long railway connection – used to transport workers and goods –  between the seven former coal mines of Limburg: Zwartberg, Winterslag, Waterschei, Eisden, Beringen, Zolder, and Houthalen.

The seven Limburg coal mines were the beating economic heart of the region and even of Belgium until well into the 20th century. The last mine – in Zolder – was closed in September 1992.


The new bicycle highway will be extended from As to Maaseik (F751), and a connection will be made with Leopoldsburg (F754). The ‘Kolenspoor’ will pass the station of As, Thor Park in Genk, KRC Genk, and the mining sites of Houthalen, Zolder, and Beringen.

The F75 will also be connected with the F74 from Hasselt to Hamont-Achel and the F76 from Genk to Tongeren. “It is the necessary link to connect the Maasland with the center and the western part of the province,” explains Bert Lambrechts (N-VA), deputy for Mobility. The ‘Kolenspoor’ bicycle highway will be about 77 km long.

Nature and biodivesity

The new bicycle highway will also pass along valuable nature reserves, such as De Klaverberg and the slag heap of Waterschei. Ecotunnels will be built under the highway not to interrupt the habitats of different animal species in the region.

Fortunately, the felling of trees is limited, but the provincial government will immediately compensate these fellings by creating additional forest area.


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