The Seine-Scheldt IGC visits Tournai on 30 March 2023

On 30 March, the members of the Seine-Scheldt Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) held their quarterly meeting in Tournai (Wallonia), during a navigation on the Scheldt, in the presence of Arunas Jurevicius, representative of DG Move and Professor Peter Balàzs, coordinator of the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor (NSMED).

Christophe Van Muysen, Inspector General at SPW, presents the Tournai crossing modernisation project.

At the beginning of the day, Mr. Christophe Van Muysen, Inspector General of the Public Service of Wallonia (SPW), presented the challenges, the history and the technical aspects of the modernisation works of the Tournai crossing. On an urban site marked by the presence of listed structures, close to port areas, the challenge was to adapt the Scheldt to ensure the safe navigation of Va class barges (110m X 11.40m, 2,000 T), while respecting the architectural and heritage character of the site. This required in particular the solution of two singular points:

-the Pont-à-Ponts, a reinforced concrete structure, which was demolished and then rebuilt in a thinner metal version, no longer resting on piles on the right bank. Thanks to work carried out 7 days a week, only 5 weeks of traffic disruption were necessary on this major artery of the city;

– the Pont des Trous, a historic structure dating from the medieval period and classified in 1991, whose arches were too narrow for the passage of Va class boats. After various proposals, a popular consultation with the inhabitants of Tournai in 2015 and citizen workshop meetings, the bridge was finally demolished in 2019 and then rebuilt retaining its original style (in stone, with the 2 restored towers and 3 pointed arch arches) and integrating guide rails. The new bridge will be officially opened on 14 April 2023.

The new Pont des Trous, rebuilt in a style close to the original

In addition to the removal of these two singular points, the project consisted of widening the channel in order to modify the curve at the level of the Saint-Brice quay and the Pont-à-Ponts, the renovation of 2.7 km of quays on both banks of the Scheldt and the modernisation of the nautical stopover on the Taille-Pierres quay, whose capacity has been extended for boaters.

In total, the project will have mobilised hundreds of workers over nearly 6 years (2017-2023), at a cost of €55 million, co-financed by Wallonia (60%) and the European Union (40%) within the framework of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

During the navigation in the heart of the city, the members of the IGC were able to see the results of these works, notably by passing under the two rebuilt bridges and during a stop at the water stop.

The new Pont-à-Ponts, in a thinner metal version.

The afternoon was devoted to the IGC meeting. The members reviewed the progress of operations in the various territories of the network (Flanders, Wallonia, Hauts-de-France, Seine Basin).

IGC members gathered on the SCALDIS boat.