Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts and motoring organisation Touring have both criticised the decision by the Brussels region to cut the lanes on the E40 motorway into Brussels from Monday. The number of lanes into Brussels is to be cut from six to four, as work on the tunnels to Meiser and Montgomery comes to an end. The speed limit will also be cut from 90 km/h to 50km/h. The news was originally announced in February.
But now Weyts and Touring have independently criticised the decision by Brussels mobility minister Pascal Smet to go ahead with a definitive change, both claiming that it was previously agreed to begin with a test phase.
“What in heaven’s name kind of cooperation is this?” Weyts asked. “We agreed on several occasions that when this project started we would begin with a test phase, given the risk of traffic spilling over into the surrounding road network. If it’s Brussels’ intention to give Flanders a gift of traffic jams, then we’re ever so thankful.”
The problem for Weyts, which a test phase would allow to be determined exactly, is that the narrowing of the approach roads to the capital would encourage drivers to leave the motorway early, at Evere or Kraainem exits, in order to avoid whatever congestion the lane reduction might cause.
Touring shares the same concern. “It cannot be the intention to take the congestion out of Brussels by transferring it to Flanders or Wallonia,” said Touring spokesperson Danny Smagghe. “It’s also important for this not to lead to more traffic jams, or to affect the traffic flow on the Brussels Ring.”
If a test phase were to show adverse effects on traffic flows, Touring would be unable to support going ahead with the project, Smagghe said. And he criticised the continued lack of Park + Ride zones on the edge of the city to cut down congestion. “If Brussels was as quick to install these parking spaces as they are with closing down lanes, we’d be a lot further forward today,” he said.
Smet expressed surprise at the criticism. “We announced this months ago,” he told Bruzz. “The minister may well be unhappy with our decision, but he was certainly aware it was happening. Brussels is concerned about air quality and the quality of life of our people. Maybe they should take care of those things in Flanders as well.”