Since October 2019, De Vlaamse Waterweg nv, the Flemish partner of the Seine-Scheldt EEIG, has been preparing a preliminary design for the renovation of the Steenbrugge movable bridge, located between Bruges and Oostkamp (Flanders). The existing bridge, which is in a state of disrepair, will be replaced by a new bridge that meets the needs of inland navigation and road traffic in the region. The new bridge will be 7 meters high and will allow the passage of 3-layer container ships. In addition, the current bend in the Ghent-Ostend canal will be straightened, so that ships no longer have to perform difficult manoeuvring at low speeds. Space will also be freed up for flora and fauna.
The design phase is now complete and an application for an environmental permit has been submitted, which involves a public inquiry. This public inquiry, which began on January 24, 2023, and will last until 22 February 2023, covers the final plans for the project.
The work on the Steenbrugge bridge and its surroundings will be carried out in 2 phases. The first phase will last approximately one year from mid-2023 and will include preparatory work with no major environmental consequences, such as the excavation of a part of the new canal and the construction of the new quay walls. Phase 2 will begin no earlier than mid-2024 and will include all other work. Once the existing bridge is demolished and work begins on the new bridge, no traffic will be possible between the two shores for a period of one and a half years. In order to limit the impact on local residents, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge (currently under construction) will allow the passage of pedestrians and cyclists.
The new Steenbrugge bridge and the bend in the Ghent-Ostend canal are an integral part of the European Seine-Scheldt river network. The operation, co-financed by the European Union, the Roads and Traffic Agency, the city of Bruges and the municipality of Oostkamp, is therefore a future-oriented investment for inland navigation in Europe.