The Flemish government is to spend an additional nine million euros on works on the eastern section of the Brussels Ring, as well as studies for future works on the western section, mobility and public works minister Ben Weyts said. The government has already approved an ambitious plan to improve traffic flow on the northern section, at a cost of three billion euros. There, traffic would be split into through traffic and local traffic, and investment made in 60km of cycle paths, costing 120 million euros, and 60km of tram infrastructure at a cost of 600 million euros. Works have already started.
The new budget will tackle a number of “quick wins” on the eastern section, works that can be quickly carried out within the government’s own authority, without lengthy enquiries and legal challenges. They include new viaducts at the Carrefour Leonard, and a simplification of traffic at the Quatre Bras junction. The Jesus-Eik exit on the E411 will be moved, with additions to the cycle network along the E411 and between Brussels and the towns of Sterrebeek and Tervuren.
On the western section of the Ring, a study will be commissioned on improving traffic flow and road safety between Halle and Groot-Bijgaarden – where, unlike on the eastern side, much of the Ring lies in the territory of Brussels region, and will thus require concertation between the two governments.
The Brussels Ring, together with its counterpart around Antwerp, is one of the worst traffic snarl-ups not only in Belgium but in Europe as a whole. The Flemish government’s plans would go a long way to easing the situation, but the works, such as extending the number of lanes between Groot-Bijgaarden and Zaventem, will take years to complete. And those works are already being contested by the Brussels region. Although the parts concerned lie entirely within Flanders, Brussels sees its vital interests being affected by the changes. Disputes on that score will cause further delays, and could also sour the atmosphere for discussions on other issues, such as the development of the eastern section of the Ring.