Renovation of Leopold II tunnel starts this summer

Brussels, 24 January 2018 – Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort, Mobility Minister Pascal Smet and Finance Minister Guy Vanhengel announced the start of the renovation works in the Leopold II tunnel. Together with the press conference, a renovation and maintenance contract for the next 25 years has been signed. The Consortium CIRCUL 2020, with Jan De Nul, Besix and Engie-Fabricom, will carry out the works and assume the maintenance of the tunnel. This consortium came with the best offer after a European negotiation procedure.

“So as to limit the impact on through traffic to the maximum extent possible, the tunnel can only be completely closed off for works during the summer holiday months July and August and, throughout the year, in the nights from Sunday to Thursday. During the day and on Friday and Saturday night, the tunnel remains open, except during the summer holiday," confirms Mobility Minister Pascal Smet.

The preparatory works will start in May 2018. The works will come with a series of accompanying measures for ensuring the best possible mobility.

Again Mobility Minister Pascal Smet: “After the works in the Stefania, Montgomery, Troon, Naamse Poort, Hallepoort and Reyers tunnels, we take another important step in the execution of our renovation programme.”

The Leopold II tunnel was built in 1986 and connects the Basilica of Koekelberg with the inner Ring road. With its 2.5 kilometres, it is the longest and also one of the most complex traffic tunnels in Brussels. It is used on a daily basis in both directions by 40,000 residents of Brussels and commuters. The inspection rounds in 2015 and 2016 in preparation of the multi-annual tunnel renovation investment programme showed that the tunnel is in need of major renovation works. Both the water barrier, the road and the electromechanical equipment must be renewed. Part of the joints and paint has asbestos encapsulated in it, which must be removed as well. In addition, all existing emergency exits are renovated and 17 new ones are created according to European safety regulations. Finally, the tunnel will also be given a new look: both the lighting and scenography will be thoroughly renovated.

In July 2016, the Brussels Government launched a European negotiation procedure for the renovation and maintenance of the Leopold II tunnel in a private-public partnership according to the DBM-formula (Design-Build-Maintain). In this formula, the contractual renovation works are complemented with a maintenance period of 25 years. By making the contractors responsible for the maintenance of the tunnel in the subsequent period, the quality of the renovation is ensured. Five consortiums filed a bid for the contract. In the end, Circul 2020 came out best of class. The contract has a value of 462.6 million euro for the next 28 years (3 years + a 25-year maintenance period), 264.7 million euro of which will go to the renovation of the tunnel. Another 13.1 million euro will be paid to cover the tunnel maintenance costs during the works (as from the start of the works, the maintenance of the tunnel is transferred as well). The financing costs amount to 4.5 million euro. For the maintenance period of 25 years, 180.3 million euro has been budgeted. 31 million euro of the renovation cost will be withheld and be paid in parts in the course of the contract, thus giving the public authorities an extra warranty for the proper execution of the contract. 

Filip Cocquereaux, chairman of the Consortium Circul 2020: “The Consortium Circul 2020 consists of three solid partners: BESIX, Jan De Nul and ENGIE Fabricom. By joining forces, we can offer comprehensive expertise for the renovation of tunnels, which we can apply to the benefit of the Brussels Capital Region and all users of the tunnel. With our offer, we wish to warrant maximum availability and safety. To this end, we’ve chosen to deploy state-of-the art equipment and back-up systems for various installations."

To limit the impact of the works on mobility, the Brussels Government had limited the tunnel closures in its specifications to the summer holiday months July and August (24/7) and to the nights (20.00 - 06.00 h) from Sunday to Thursday. So, apart from the summer holiday, the tunnel remains open to traffic during the day and also on Friday and Saturday nights. The imposed maximum duration of the works of 39 months is respected by the consortium.

Now that the contractor has been appointed and the start of the works is known, Brussels Mobility is preparing a package of accompanying measures together with the MIVB (Brussels Public Transport Authority, de Lijn (Flemish Public Bus Transportation Authority), the NMBS (the Belgian national railway corporation), the Flemish Region, the relevant local councils and emergency services. A large-scale information campaign on the impact of the works will be set up, both for commuters and for the residents of Brussels and the people living in the neighbourhood of the project site. An ombudsman has been appointed for all questions concerning the project site and Brussels Mobility and its various partners, including the local councils, are currently working out a mobility plan for the area. Other construction sites in the area will be geared to and coordinated with the Leopold II site. Finally, it will be examined together with the public transport companies in which way their public transport offer can be extended. The whole package of accompanying measures should be ready for implementation by next summer.