Oosterweel Link comes out tops in traffic report
The Flemish Traffic Centre VVC recently calculated the impact on traffic of the five proposed trajectories that will develop the Antwerp ring road as part of the city’s most crucial and costly projects, the Masterplan 2020. Its effect on mobility is one of the tenets of the project to be included in the environmental impact report MER at the end of the year. According to the analysis, the Oosterweel Link that will close the ring road around Antwerp, would be the best option. This was also confirmed by the fourth biannual status report presented by the holding company Beheersmaatschappij Antwerpen Mobiel BAM in the Flemish Parliament. The report shows that the Oosterweel Link will have the biggest effect on driving speed during peak hours and will allow a speed of 100 kilometres per hour during morning traffic. The current state of traffic accomodation would see this speed drop to an average of 38 kilometres per hour by 2020. The other trajectories also promise to increase speed, but not to the same degree. It’s not surprising that the Oosterweel Link is the one preferred by the Flemish government. During the commission mobility minister Hilde Crevits CD&V reiterated her government’s support of this option even though the original plans for a bridge have since been changed to two tunnels. At this stage, however, the Traffic Centre’s report is not enough to finalise the matter and they will have to wait and see what the department of environment’s MER has to say. The environmental action groups Ademloos and stRaten-Generaal, who support the Meccano project which will keep the Antwerp ring road further away from the city, are disappointed with the report. “We continue to hear that the Oosterweel Link is favoured during decision-making and talks on practical implementation,” stRaten-Generaal report in a press release. According to the group, the traffic report credits the Meccano project as a stable project from a technical and traffic point of view. The way things currently stand construction will only start late in 2016 at the earliest, making the project 15 months behind schedule. BAM’s new CEO Rudi Thomaes clarified his role in the parliament. “I hope to bring the much-needed progress to the case,” said this former CEO of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises while stressing “the critical need” to address the traffic congestion around Antwerp. Meanwhile the Flemish government is also awaiting response from Europe. At this stage the European Commission has not yet decided whether the building consortium Noriant can build the Oosterweel link after it was favoured to win the tender for the original bridge. The government is also waiting to hear from the Commission if the Oosterweel project may be concessioned to the anonymous partnership Liefkenshoek tunnel in an effort to keep it outside of the budget of the Flemish government. Even though various factors must still be decided, it seems that at this stage the Masterplan is estimated to cost 7.25 billion euros.