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First Belgian traffic bridge made of weather-resistant steel combines sustainable mobility with liveability and ecology

The new bridge on the Hector Henneaulaan in Zaventem is part of the broader redevelopment of the Ring around Brussels. Sweco, commissioned by De Werkvennootschap, was responsible for the design, permits, tender dossier, and tender procedure.

Brug Hector Henneaulaan over de Ring rond Brussel

© De Werkvennootschap

Our assignment demonstrates how infrastructure projects can serve as a lever for creating a sustainable and vital living environment. The new bridge ensures smooth traffic flow for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, while also serving as a full-fledged eco-passage. This connection between valuable green areas on both sides of the Ring provides space for flora and fauna. The green buffer also creates a cooler environment during hot summer days and retains rainfall for longer.

Brug Hector Henneaulaan over Ring rond Brussel

© De Werkvennootschap

Safety, mobility, and nature conservation are all beneficiaries

The previous bridge was an unsafe point for active road users, causing traffic congestion and was in very poor condition. The new bridge is twice as wide and focuses strongly on the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. The flow of public transport and cars has also noticeably improved. Additionally, thanks to its own eco-passage, animals can now safely cross the Ring.

The adjacent green areas have been made accessible to residents and workers in the area, serving as a buffer between the Ring and residential neighborhoods. Not only the attention to safety for all road users and nature makes this project unique, but also the use of weather-resistant steel, which is a first in Belgium. The construction lasted for 3 years and was completed according to plan.

Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters is visibly proud of this achievement: “A project like this realizes the ambitions of the program ‘Working on the Ring’: a combination of improved traffic safety and flow, more attention to cycling and public transport, additional space for nature, and increased liveability for residents. With the new bridge on the Hector Henneaulaan and the redevelopment of the surrounding area, we achieve our four objectives in one high-quality project. In the coming years, we will continue to transform the Zaventem region completely.”

Vlaams minister van Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken Lydia Peeters

A safe and smooth crossing for all road users, including animals

The new bridge offers smooth road infrastructure for all modes of transport and encourages walking, cycling, and public transport. Upon looking at the bridge, one immediately notices the spacious bike and pedestrian path, which is completely separated from motorized traffic. The bus also has its own lane. The flow of cars is managed by smart traffic lights.

On the other side of the bike path, there is a green zone that allows animals to cross the Ring more safely. Thanks to the stump wall (a series of tree stumps), animals have the necessary cover during their crossing. Once across the bridge, they can use numerous eco-tunnels under the access ramps.

Brug Hector Henneaulaan over Ring Rond Brussel

Creating a pleasant, green environment

The project also promotes better harmony between the Ring and the adjacent nature. Valuable green areas are located on both sides of the Ring. Thanks to the bridge, these fragmented areas have been connected and made accessible to residents and workers in the area. The newly constructed bike path winds through the green zones towards Woluwedal.

Noteworthy are the many water ponds. They not only provide a new habitat for water birds but are also essential for achieving a natural water balance. Rainwater is now captured on-site and can be absorbed slowly by the trees. This is beneficial for nature and reduces the burden on the drainage system.

Brug Hector Henneaulaan over Ring rond Brussel

The first traffic bridge in Belgium made of weather-resistant steel

When driving on the Ring and looking at the underside of the bridge, one notices the significant difference compared to other bridges over the Ring. The bridge is made of corten steel instead of concrete, which is unique in Belgium. Corten steel is much stronger than regular steel and is highly suitable for bridge construction. The rust formation on the steel is intentional and forms a natural protective layer, eliminating the need for maintenance.

Brug Hector Henneaulaan over Ring rond Brussel

© De Werkvennootschap

A project by ‘Werken aan de Ring’

The construction of this new bridge is a project of ‘Werken aan de Ring’. This program by the Flemish government aims to improve mobility on and along the Ring around Brussels. Additionally, more than 115 kilometers of bicycle highways will be built, new bus lanes and tram lines will be established, and efforts will be made to create a more pleasant living and working environment. Nature will also be given more space.

Within the THV MoVeR0, Sweco and Arcadis, together with De Werkvennootschap, are working on the redevelopment of the Ring around Brussels, between the Groot-Bijgaarden and Sint-Stevens-Woluwe junctions. The project team is responsible for traffic studies, technical and architectural designs, landscape integration, process guidance, preparation of permits and tender documents, and support in stakeholder management and communication.