The Flemish regional government has approved a plan to spend €1.25 billion to enclose 18 parts of the Antwerp Ring, in an effort to reduce pollution and make parts of the city more habitable. The plan comes from an activist group called Ringland, who joined with other activist groups opposed to the so-called Oosterweel Connection, a plan to lead a viaduct through parts of the city centre, which would have dropped pollution over city neighbourhoods, including a school for the disabled situated directly under the route.
That project was rejected in an unusual city-wide referendum, and the plans have now been changed to take the route through a tunnel instead.
Ringland sprang up from the Oosterweel protest, with the proposal that Antwerp could achieve two aims with a plan to enclose the Ring: reduce air pollution in the adjoining areas, and provide green spaces on top of what once was motorway, and would then become tunnel.
The plan approved by the Flemish government this week has the backing of the various activist groups involved, and includes the covering-over of 18 locations on the Ring. The plan also has the backing of the Antwerp city council and the port authority, as well as the opposition parties Groen and sp.a. It also includes a cycle bridge over the river Scheldt and the E17 motorway. Thirteen other projects were for the time being rejected.