Brussels road tunnel project complete

Construction work is complete on a key Brussels road tunnel project.
Road Structures / March 1, 2022 1 minute 10 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
Brussels is now benefiting from an improved road tunnel link
Renovation work is now complete in Brussels for the Annie Cordy Tunnel. The work has been carried out by a consortium, CIRCUL 2020 for Brussels Mobility, assisted by Egis.

The 2.6km link is the longest tunnel in Belgium and handles more than 60,000 vehicles/day, linking the centre of Brussels with the highways from the north and west of the country.

The Annie Cordy Tunnel (formerly the Leopold II Tunnel) has been completely renovated and now meets the highest quality and safety standards. Sophisticated technology has been installed to ensure optimal maintenance for decades to come.

The work, which started in 2018, was carried out by BESIX, Jan De Nul Group and EQUANS, members of the CIRCUL 2020 consortium, and their partner DENYS. The renovation operations are now followed by a 25-year maintenance period, also entrusted by Brussels Mobility to BESIX, Jan De Nul Group and EQUANS.

An official inauguration and the official name change will follow at the end of May.

The work consisted of a major renovation including the repair of the structural works, the reconstruction of the roadway and surroundings, the rehabilitation and construction of technical premises and 17 new emergency exits, waterproofing, and safety compliance. To assure a long lifetime for the tunnel structure, 24,000m² of cathodic protection was installed.

All the equipment also had to be replaced, including 800km of cables, ventilation, communication and monitoring installations, as well as the lighting. Finally, the new decoration of the tunnel’s interior walls was completely redesigned under the direction of Brussels Mobility and Art & Build.

Given the location and strategic role of the tunnel, the work was carried out at night, from 10pm to 6am, leaving the rest of the day free for traffic. The months of July and August 2018, 2019 and 2020 were the only exceptions, with a complete closure of the infrastructure 24 hours a day. In 2020, during the first Covid-19 wave, the execution of the works was accelerated during an additional closure of the tunnel, which was possible due to lower traffic frequency.

During the night closures, an average of 180 persons/24 hours were at work on the construction site. At peak times during the complete summer closures, this number rose to about 400 persons/24 hours working on the project.

The tunnel's particularly dense direct environment required the construction teams to take into account many unusual elements. Along its route, the tunnel runs alongside public transport, including a metro line, various networks including the city's sewage system, groundwater, and passes under the Brussels-Charleroi Canal, major boulevards, and the listed Elisabeth Park.

Advanced systems have been used to facilitate the maintenance of the Annie Cordy Tunnel for decades to come. For example, the use of 3D scanners and 360° cameras at several stages of the renovation process provides accurate digital models of the infrastructure as built.

Similarly, the photogrammetric survey of all the concrete slabs and the resulting orthomosaic ensure that the maintenance teams have an image detailed to the centimetre and including geolocalised data.
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