“It was an intensive process, but the demolition of the bridge in Wijnegem is gradually approaching its end,” spokeswoman Liliane Stinissen breathes a sigh of relief. And she will not be the only one at De Vlaamse Waterweg and the Hye-Hens contractor combination who is relieved that the battle has been won.
“After the demolition of the land span on the right bank, the remaining land pillar was demolished on Thursday. The last pontoon was then also removed. After a sounding of the bottom of the canal and the removal of any debris or reinforcement, the channel can then be fully opened.”
Why the demolition of the banana bridge was so complex and took longer than expected? The bridge rested on a point in the canal. The contractor first had to provide a temporary support point on the northern span when the southern side was to be demolished.
The bridge curved above the canal. This also required extra preparation to place the pontoons and demolition cranes in the right place. The bend also affected the forces acting on the bridge (both horizontally and vertically), making the demolition even more complex. The bridge was constructed from one concrete tube. Stability was therefore under pressure from the very first cut.
That is why the demolition workers had to work in phases and precisely to guarantee safety. And even then, as we know, things didn’t go exactly as planned. By the way, they not only demolished the part above water, but also the parts that floated above land and water (between land pillars and abutments). That made the length to be demolished longer.
There will be no further demolition works this weekend. From Monday, work will continue during the day, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. But in the meantime, photos can be taken of an Albert Canal without a ‘banana bridge’.
That still seems a bit strange. Although – depending on the photographer’s point of view – the new bridge is gradually emerging in the background, near Kanaalstraat and Groenstraat. It should be ready at the end of May so that cars, buses and trucks can cross the canal there from now on. The new bicycle bridge at the lock complex will have to wait until 2026.
Stokerijstraat will soon be closed off from the village center. But reportedly they are gradually ready for asphalting on the Wommelgemsteenweg. Then the renovated street, where the works were also delayed, can serve as a diversion road.