Disruption is expected today on the Brussels Ring at the familiar junction Zaventem-Henneaulaan, as works begin that are expected to last ten years.
The ultimate goal: to separate through traffic from local traffic, to allow better traffic flow and reduce the number of accidents caused when vehicles enter or leave the motorway.
The immediate result: in the coming four years, the carriageways will consist of three reduced-width lanes, while a speed limit of 70km/h are in force.
“We expect a lot of inconveniences, because the Ring is a very saturated motorway: as soon as you do something, you feel the impact,” said Marijn Struyf of De Werkvennootschap, the organisation coordinating the works.
“We think you will feel it less during rush hour, because traffic is slow then anyway. The consequences of narrowed lanes are then felt less. But rush hour will take longer, and at times when the speed is normally faster than 70 km per hour, there will be traffic jams.”
The worst disruption is expected in the early stages, when people are less accustomed to the changes.
“People who regularly use this section often still have to get used to the new situation,” said Peter Bruyninckx of the Flemish Traffic Center. “And in non-corona times, the Zaventem-Machelen zone is one of the busiest parts of the country. But it could also work out better than expected. When Infrabel narrowed the lanes for works in the same place last year, it did not cause much additional nuisance.”
The first works began at the weekend, with the demolition of the central reservation. A new bridge will be constructed on the roadside, intended to replace the existing bridge, which is in a state of disrepair. In the end there will be two new bridges, including one for bicycles and buses, as well as an ecoduct for animals.
When that work is completed in 2024, work will begin on transforming the exit to the airport. Then attention turns to the major part of the works, affecting the entire section of the Ring from Sint-Stevens-Woluwe to Groot-Bijgaarden, where the divided traffic plan will be implemented.
“We want to make a region that is very focused on the car more liveable, safer and multimodal,” said Flemish minister for public works Lydia Peeters (Open VLD). “We want to establish a preferred alternative by the end of this year.”
In the coming weeks, local residents and road users will be invited to give their opinion through a public consultation.