New A11 motorway is ‘missing link’ to coast and port

Summary

The new stretch of road in West Flanders includes Belgium’s first motorway bridge over a canal and should keep lorries out of town centres

Opens this week

A new stretch of motorway has opened between Bruges and Westkapelle for pedestrians and cyclists and is due to open to vehicular traffic on 1 September. The motorway links the N31 in Bruges to the N49, allowing smoother and faster access to the northern coast.

 “This is an example of Flemish craftsmanship that we can be proud of,” Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts said at the opening of the A11.

One of the main features of the new road is a moveable bridge over the Boudewijn canal – the first such bridge in Belgium. “This project will keep lorries out of town centres,” Weyts said, “as well as stressing the importance of waterways.” The bridge will only have to be raised for the largest ships.

At the opening, Weyts repeated the government’s plan to invest €5.8 billion over the next two years in mobility and public works. “There is of course the Oosterweel connection, God and the action groups willing,” he said, referring to the long-contested Antwerp ring road project that was finally approved by all parties earlier this year.

“But I can also announce that an investment of €750 million in the lock of Terneuzen has been approved,” Weyts continued. The new lock at the Zeeland port will improve access for shipping to the port of Ghent.

The mayors of the three municipalities along the A11 – Bruges, Damme and Knokke – were at the opening, and Leopold Lippens, mayor of Knokke, paid tribute to current education minister Hilde Crevits, who was also present.

“As then minister for public works, she helped make this project possible,” he said. “Without you this would never have been realised.” The new motorway was, he said, “the missing link” for the region, offering better access to the coast and to the port of Zeebrugge.

Photo courtesy Willemen Groep