Antwerp braced for disruption as works on Oosterweel Link begin

Summary

The port city will become “the building site of the century,” warns mayor, but it will be worth it in the end

That which binds us

A publicity campaign to sell the benefits of the Oosterweel Link in Antwerp has been launched by the city and regional governments. The aim is to convince the public that the massive disruption ahead will be worth it in the end.

Branded the Grote Verbinding, the public works project involves completing Antwerp’s traffic-laden ring road by building the Oosterweel Link. This will specifically have a major effect on lorries coming in and out of the port.

The Grote Verbinding also includes roofing over older sections of the road to lessen its impact on the city. Meanwhile, a number of civic projects in neighbourhoods affected by the ring road aim to make life more pleasant and environmentally sustainable.

Slogans now appearing on posters around the city, include “The Diamond City Now Gets A Beautiful Ring” (De diamantstad krijgt nu ook zelf een mooie ring) and “The City of Biscuits Becomes Good Enough To Eat” (De koekenstad wordt om op te eten).

This project will define the appearance of the city in the same way that the Spanish fortifications once did

- Mayor Bart De Wever

While work on the Oosterweel Link has already begun, this is just the beginning, according to Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever. “This project of the century, which will define the appearance of the city in the same way that the Spanish fortifications once did, will unfortunately also create the building site of the century. That will hurt … but the result will be worth it.”

Benefits include more options for public transport around the city and for sustainable alternatives such as bicycles. The traffic that remains should move more smoothly, and have less of an impact on residents and air quality.

The publicity campaign is intended to accentuate these benefits, and to dispel misunderstandings about the project. “We want to publicise the Grote Verbinding project to the widest possible audience,” said Claude Marinower, city councillor responsible for marketing and communication.

As well as informing the public, the campaign will urge them to participate in the further development of the plans. In particular, there will be two more information days on the project in November.

And for some there will be new career opportunities. “We are looking at creating 180 jobs a year on the building sites,” Marinower added.

Photo: ©Frederik Beyens/Stad Antwerpen