The first parts of the new, more compact interchange Antwerp-West, where the E17 (Ghent) and the Antwerp ring road near the Kennedy tunnel meet, will open to motorists from Friday evening at 8 p.m.
The interchange on Antwerp’s Left Bank is part of the Oosterweel project, a mega-project designed to complete the Antwerp ring road. The new infrastructure, including a 470-meter-long fly-over, should be a lot safer and smoother than the previous version and ease traffic jams in the region.
Compacter and safer
So, from this weekend, you will normally drive a bit smoother from the E17 from Ghent to the Kennedy Tunnel, from the E17 from Ghent to the E34, and from the E34 from Zelzate to the Kennedy Tunnel. From Sunday, 21 May, there will even be an extra lane available both on the E17 and on the interchange itself toward the Kennedy tunnel.
According to Oosterweel builder Lantis, compactness and safety are major differences from the former Antwerp-West interchange. Less lost space between lanes frees up 18 hectares of green space between the interchange and Antwerp Left Bank.
Moreover, the entry and exit lanes are now on the right instead of the left, which means fewer weaving movements and should, therefore, be a lot safer. The Left Bank entry and exit lane will move to the other side of the highway, connecting to a new link road, and will be replaced in its former location by a green zone with a cycle link to the Ring Cycle Path highway linking Ghent to Antwerp.
More space for cycling infrastructure
The partial opening of the new junction will also see Charles de Coster Avenue, between Waasland Port and Left Bank/Waasland tunnel, permanently closed. The avenue will be softened and transformed into a green cycling and walking boulevard. The Waasland tunnel will also become a local connection. The interventions should result in less cut-through traffic. Exit 6 Left Bank will also be closed until autumn.
Under, above, and along the new highways, many kilometers of new cycle connections will also be constructed in the coming years.
The section from the Kennedy tunnel to the E17 toward Ghent will open at the beginning of June. The connection from the E34 to the E17 and the new Left Bank approach will follow in autumn. In spring 2024, the new interchange will then really be finished.
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