The Brussels Region has introduced a new town-planning permit for the Avenue du Port (Port Avenue), the Cabinet of the region’s Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Pascal Smet, announced on Wednesday. The sustainable mobility project for the avenue has been amended to satisfy the requests of the Consultative Commission with regard to vehicular traffic and parking. The Commission had not mentioned the preservation of some 1.5 million pavestones, even though this had been supported by the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites and certain associations like the Atelier de Recherche et d’Action Urbaines (Workshop on Urban Research and Action).
The request for a town-planning permit based on the amended project was introduced to the communes concerned in mid-August. A public poll and consultative commission could be held in the final quarter of this year. The idea is to begin work in 2018 and complete the project in 2019. Maintenance work by the Vivaqua company on the important drain of the avenue, which does not require a town-planning permit, has already been programmed for the new year.
The Consultative Commission had issued a favourable, non-binding opinion with certain conditions in December 2016. In keeping with its recommendation, two traffic lanes will be kept at certain places and a bus lane will not be created, but the Region reserves itself the possibility of reviewing this issue at a later stage. Parking has been eliminated along the street, but 82 places have been designed by the Tour & Taxis site. Parking for trucks, now prohibited on the avenue, will be organized on the Chaussée de Vilvoorde (Vilvoorde Road).
The number of lanes will not be changed nor will the width of the road, which remains 9 metres between Saictelette Square and Rue Picard, and 12 metres between Rue Picard and Rue Claessens. “The objective of the redevelopment of the Avenue du Port is to do away with the impression of an urban highway,” said Pascal Smet.
The two bicycle lanes will be kept so as to preserve the essence of the project. The lane on the canal side will be a two-way one since it is a regional and European cycling route. The one on the Tour & Taxis side will be a one-way path; it will be aimed at connecting the new neighbourhood now under construction.
A second row of 128 elm trees will be planted on the canal side, creating a tree-lined drive. On the Tour & Taxi side, since the alignment is not even, some of the plane trees in worst shape will be cut down and replaced with elms.
In 2011, the cutting of trees under the initial project had sparked a sharp public outcry. Critics then had also called for the preservation of the paves, which has not been included in the current project.