The last stretch of the A12 motorway in the northern region of the capital could be transformed into a green boulevard, leaving just one lane for cars.
The Parkway 21 project will restructure the current roadway section, the 3km route hugging the edge of the Park of Laeken between the regional border and the canal near the Van Praet bridge, to create a mixed-use green area for all road users – especially the more vulnerable – to enjoy.
"We are starting the reconstruction of the approach roads to Brussels. We are transforming motorways into intermodal city boulevards: smooth and accessible for all modes of transport, greener and more liveable for all inhabitants," Elke Van den Brandt, Minister for Mobility and Public Works, who proposed the plans, said in a press release.
"The A12 will become a green, smooth and liveable gateway for everyone," and will connect the parks of Laeken to form an "almost unbroken green space."
"This fits in with the '10-minute city' – a project through which we provide collective facilities such as schools, crèches, public transport, cultural centres, sports halls, etc. in every neighbourhood. The aim here is to provide families with more leisure time," Brussels Mayor Philippe Close explained.
Cyclists and pedestrians first
As part of the project, which will target more than 14 hectares of ground, just one of three car lanes will remain in the direction of the city centre. The speed limit will also be lowered with the aim of reducing the noise caused by passing cars. There will be two car lanes leading out of the city.
To ensure that the area remains accessible, this project will feed into the existing STIB project for the future tram line 10 in Neder-over-Heembeek, for which a public enquiry will soon be launched.
Meanwhile, a complete cycle highway to the city will also be created, with the construction of a bridge at the roundabout and a cycle route throughout the urban boulevard.
Brussels Mobility has already applied for planning permission for the Parkway 21 project, and Urban Brussels will now carry out a thorough analysis of the planning permit application.
The government hopes that the permit will be granted within six months so that the works can start in 2022. It is hoped that the works would be completed by 2024.
Van den Brandt riffed on the name of the motorway, proposing that the A12 will become known as the "A-douce" - 'douce' being near-homophones in French - and directly translating into "A-soft."
However, Brussels Secretary of State for Urban Development Pascal Smet has spoken out against these plans, arguing that the project has not been discussed with the government.
"In these financially difficult times, there are other investments in Brussels that have more priority, such as the Rue Belliard and Rue de la Loi axes or the Boulevard Jamar. This is a 'nice to have', not a 'need to have' project", Smet believes.
He told Belga news agency that the transformation "is not a priority because the plans do not include a 'Park and Ride' zone, and because the end of the A12 is actually already a green area."