On Saturday afternoon, the Brussels President-Minister Rudi Vervoort confirmed that the Hermann-Debroux viaduct would remain shut until at least Thursday morning as a precaution. This is because the results of the recent checks are due on Wednesday. Mr Vervoort was backed by his Mobility Minister Pascal Smet and Economy Minister Didier Gosuin, who is also the barred Auderghem mayor.
There was an exterior inspection back in March 2016, which didn’t find any major problems. More thorough tests have now been done. The Mobility Minister decided to shut the bridge between the Beaulieu station and chaussée de Wavre in the early hours of Saturday. This is because of a risk it could be unstable due to the concrete degrading. The Brussels government allowed Brussels Mobility to close the viaduct for more than 72 hours as requested.
The situation will be re-examined on Wednesday, with the help of the first batch of results. Chemical tests on the concrete are being done on a 10 metre long section. There will also be mechanical tests to check the bridge’s overall stability and how much weight it can support. If these tests show no problems, the viaduct can be reopened.
Rudi Vervoort explained that he decided to have all the bridges checked to help him come up with a pluri-annual investment plan. There are four more bridges to inspect. He also said that the Hermann-Debroux viaduct was closed before, back in 2003.
The Brussels Minister’s Council asked the Mobility Minister Pascal Smet to speak to the communal authorities, STIB, TEC, De Lijn, the SNCB and federal and regional cabinets to come up with accompaniment measure if needed. “We need to have plans already in place”, explains Rudi Vervoort. “It’s the funnel principle. I don’t want to see everything totally flooded. So, clearly we need to channel”.
It is too early to predict a “Reyers scenario” and delay planned demolition work. “Eventually, viaducts will no longer have a place in a city”, says Pascal Smet. However, for the moment the plan is to reopen the viaduct. A decision on demolition can only be made serenely with accompaniment measures, according to Brussels government representatives.
Saturday morning’s closure led to 20 minute delays getting in and out of Brussels, say Brussels Mobility.