New A11 from Bruges to Knokke is Belgium’s most expensive motorway
With a total cost of 674 million euro or 56 million per kilometre, the new 12 km long A11 connecting Bruges to Knokke, its viaduct and opening bridge constitutes the most expensive motorway in Belgium, ever. In theory, it will be open on September 1st.
The construction work started in 2014 to build 12 km of motorway relaying the two cities of Bruges and Knokke while crossing the Baudouin Canal. It represents an important missing link of the Flemish road network, and allows to connect the N31 in Bruges to the N49 in Knokke-Heist.
The objective was to separate local traffic and freight from or to the Zeebruge harbour, therefore improving traffic flow. “Currently, drivers spend 30 to 35 minutes every day to connect both cities, but now they will only drive for 7 minutes”, explains Koen Thys, prime contractor for the Flemish road agency Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer.
“This new road is also very interesting for Walloons spending the weekend in Knokke. Those going through Antwerp will gain a lot of time”, he adds.
Crossing the Boudewijn Canal required the construction of a bridge. To keep freight traffic on the canal and to allow boats over 15 m in height to go through, the road agency decided to build a drawbridge.
“It is completely new for Belgium”, explains Thys, “the system is already used on highways in the Netherlands and other countries without any problems. With 48 cameras, the Flemish traffic control center can monitor the situation and alert drivers of the bridges’ activity with information screens along the motorway. There will be two +15 m boats every day”. When the bridge is in activity, traffic will have to stop for at least 12 minutes.
1 km long viaduct
Near Knokke, 717 plots had to be expropriated from 400 landowners to build a viaduct suspending 17 meters above the ground for 1 kilometre. Near the Westkapelle village, the motorway goes under the ground in a 300 m long tunnel.
According to Koen Thys, work isn’t finished yet even if the inauguration was on August 26th. “I’m working on this project until Easter. Also, a 15 km cycling path still has to be finished”, he ends.