Repairs to the bridge over the Brussels-Scheldt sea canal at Humbeek-Sas in Grimbergen could take up to four months to complete, according to an initial appraisal by Grimbergen local council. The bridge was damaged when a canal boat collided with the structure as it was opening to allow the boat to pass. The impact shifted the roadway of the bascule bridge five or six metres out of line on one side, while the mechanism that raises and lowers the two halves of the bridge was also damaged.
As a result, traffic to and from the port of Brussels has been severely hindered, with some transport ships unable to leave the port, and the larger freight transports from Antwerp unable to reach Brussels until the roadway part of the bridge is removed, which will be next week at the earliest. Those sections of the bridge are now destined for the scrap-heap.
The closure of the road portion of the bridge presents less of a problem, since there are alternative crossings of the canal available a short distance away both up- and down-stream. The only problem there will be one of congestion; the bridge was a popular alternative for drivers wishing to avoid the roundabout road between the A12 and the E19.
Local authorities are now planning a shuttle-bus service for cyclists and pedestrians to cross via the Verbrande Brug. While that crossing is only 7-8km away for motorists, the diversion is long for cyclists, and none too safe, said Grimbergen’s councillor for mobility Philip Roosen. The shuttle bus will serve until Vlaamse Waterweg, which manages inland waterways in the region, can install a foot-ferry closer to the bridge, particularly for children crossing the canal to go to and from school.