Oosterweel works to expand on Right Bank

26 Oct 2021

Contractor for largest contract is on board.

The Oosterweel project near the Merksem Viaduct will soon get underway. In the coming years the Viaduct, an iconic part of the current Antwerp Ring Road, will be demolished and replaced by a sunken Ring Road. The contractor consortium that will carry out this major work was officially appointed today. The Tijdelijke Maatschap ROCO will not only realize the renewed Antwerp Ring Road, but will also build the Canal Tunnels on the bottom of the Albert Canal. In 2030, the works will be completed and the Oosterweel connection will be put into use.

"We are entering a special decade," says Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon. "These works will have an impact, they will create challenges, but at the same time these works are the driver for a new future. A future in which we interpret our mobility differently and in which infrastructure is the carrier of a symbiosis between a livable environment and a prosperous Flemish region."


Alliance for a new future

The Oosterweel project started in 2000 as a project that would finally close the Antwerp Ring. The Covenant for the Future, which was concluded in 2017, provided an extreme makeover. Spurred on by the citizens' movements, livability became a cornerstone of the project: together with a smoother and safer mobility, work was done on a greener and healthier environment. Quality of life projects were drawn up and 4 Ring Parks were linked to the realization of the Oosterweel project.

"In this way, we combine works, and we ensure that the nuisance for local residents and road users is limited as much as possible," says Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters. "At the same time, Oosterweel is so much more than an infrastructure and livability project, it is also the key to sustainable mobility. After all, in the coming years we will have to make the shift to other forms of mobility. Not only to absorb the works, but also to ensure our future."


Dialogue with the neighborhood

The works that will start next month will have a major impact on local residents. To be able to demolish the Merksem Viaduct, a temporary highway - the Bypass - will be built first. It will run parallel with the current Viaduct. Preparatory work to build this Bypass will begin on October 18. At that time, both access ramps to the Netherlands in Merksem will be closed. Only in 2030 will this traffic complex, in a completely new form, be available to traffic again.

"We realize that we will be working virtually in people's front or back yards. Therefore, the benefits of these impactful works must not only be felt after completion. During the work we also work to create a safe environment for the neighborhood, where there is room for greenery," says Luc Hellemans, general manager of Lantis. "An intense dialogue with the neighborhood should allow us stay informed of the concerns and questions that arise. The most impressive building in Flanders must at the same time become the most livable site in Flanders," concludes Hellemans.


Flemish expertise

The last part of the Oosterweel link is being built by an impressive consortium of top Flemish companies. There are ten of them, the partners of the Temporary Partnership ROCO (Rechteroever Compleet). They are BESIX, DEME Infra, Dredging International, JAN DE NUL, CORDEEL Zetel Temse, DENYS, FRANKI Construct, WILLEMEN Infra, VAN LAERE, and BAM Contractors. In recent years, together with Lantis, they have worked hard on the preparations and on the contract that was signed today.

"TM ROCO is confident that, thanks to the available experience and expertise of its partners, it will be able to bring this complex assignment to a successful conclusion, "says Lode Franken, chairman of the executive committee of ROCO. "Thanks to the operational contract with a focus on cooperation, openness and mutual trust, Lantis and TM ROCO will be able to maximize their energy for the benefit of the project and its many stakeholders."

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