€1 billion for Oosterweel requested from EU

Summary

Flanders has applied for a €1 billion loan from the European Investment Bank to help fund the massive project that will close Antwerp’s ring road and bring more public space to the city

Project is ‘strategically important’

Flemish finance minister Bart Tommelein has applied to the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a loan of €1 billion for the construction of the Oosterweel connection on the Antwerp ring road. Tommelein said that the EIB being prepared to consider the application “proves the strategic importance of the project”.

The Oosterweel connection will close the circle of the Antwerp ring to make it easier for freight traffic from the port area to head east towards Germany or north towards the Netherlands. At present all traffic has to travel south first, creating congestion and extra cost to trucking concerns.

The Oosterweel connection, named for a village that once stood along the proposed route, would allow freight traffic to use a northerly by-pass, which would relieve pressure to the ring road, diverting lorries from city-bound traffic altogether.

“There will be fewer traffic jams on the motorway, less traffic in the city, and the port will be more accessible,” Tommelein said. “The project is good for the environment and improves road safety.”

The EIB’s has said that it will consider the application, which Tommelein said was a positive sign. “That a European institution believes in the project and probably intends to invest in it demonstrates the importance of Oosterweel,” he said. “As we have always said, Oosterweel is important not only for Antwerp, Flanders and Belgium, but for Europe as a whole. I am convinced the EIB will show its faith in the project.”

Photo courtesy BAM

Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year