Dredging works for new Scheldt tunnel for Oosterweel link started

The dredging works required for the construction of the new Scheldt tunnel for the Oosterweel connection have started in the Scheldt off the Antwerp port area. Specifically, this involves creating a temporary navigation channel so that ships can safely pass by the works and then a sinking trench so that the tunnel elements can be laid there next year.

Those eight tunnel elements are currently being built in a specially designed dry dock in Zeebrugge. In mid-2025, they will be brought to Antwerp and sunk into the bottom of the Scheldt via that sinking trench.

Changed navigation channel

In total, some 1,3 million m³ of soil will be dredged by the TM COTU consortium of contractors for the construction of the 1,8 km long Scheldt tunnel, one of the showpieces of the Oosterweel link. Some 200 000 m³ of this is contaminated with oils and metals, among other things, and will be disposed of at processing centers. “In this way, we are also making the Scheldt a bit cleaner again,” states Oosterweel construction manager Lantis.

The Oosterweel works do mean that the navigation channel for ships on the Scheldt will be moved towards the right bank and narrowed from 180 to 80 meters. Once the sinking trench on the Left Bank side has been completed, a navigation channel on that side will be dredged to allow for a sinking trench on the Right Bankside as well.

The excavation and construction of the third and final construction pit for the new Scheldt tunnel/TM COTU

New dike

Meanwhile, on the Left Bank, excavation has started on the final construction pit for the ramp to the Scheldt tunnel. Later this spring, part of the new Scheldt bank on top of the Scheldt tunnel will also be built in that area. This will be higher and more inland than the existing dike. In the zone between will be a flood plain with mudflats, salt marshes, and a forest.

The Scheldt tunnel should finally complete the Antwerp Ring Road (R1). The new tunnel, due to be commissioned in 2030, will connect the renovated Sint-Anna interchange on the Left Bank with the future Oosterweel interchange on the right bank, to which the planned Channel Tunnels – replacing the Merksem viaduct – will, in turn, connect. A separate tunnel tube is planned for cyclists.

Along the Scheldt side of the new and raised dike, an ecologically valuable area with mud flats and salt marshes, and a flood forest will be created/TM COTU


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