Busy gateway to Brussels must become a green city boulevard

Busy gateway to Brussels must become a green city boulevard
Busy gateway to Brussels must become a green city boulevard
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Brussels Minister of Mobility Elke Van den Brandt (Green) has submitted an application for an urban development permit to renovate Keizer Karellaan, one of the main access roads for commuters from Flanders to the capital. In the future, the busy traffic axis will be limited to 2×2 lanes for car traffic over its entire length, with cycle paths and more trees. The permit has only just been applied for. It is not yet clear when the works can start.

The avenue, which runs from the municipality of Sint-Agatha-Berchem through Ganshoren to the Basilica of Koekelberg, is used by thousands of commuters every day. “At the moment it is very dangerous and not green at all. With this plan we want to tackle and improve the situation,” says Litte Frooninckx, spokeswoman for Van den Brandt.

Step back

Although not everyone is a fan of the plan. “The project offers no added value for Sint-Agatha-Berchem. It is even a step backwards, a dogmatic measure that makes no sense,” says Christian Lamouline (Les Engagés), the mayor of Sint-Agatha-Berchem, in La Dernière Heure. He mainly points out possible difficulties in converting surrounding streets into axes with one-way traffic.

However, he should not worry about that, says Frooninckx. “The driving directions will remain unchanged. In addition, we ensure more traffic flow through a dynamic traffic policy.”

In the future, the two lanes will remain in each direction, separated by a green central reservation. Squares are also planned to provide “breathing space” for pedestrians, supplemented with more comfortable, safer sidewalks. Brussels Mobility also wants to provide a wide two-way cycle path that “fits in perfectly” with the future cycle highway from Flanders.

A model of the new Keizer Karellaan. — © Brussels Mobility

In addition, 222 of the current 387 parking spaces will also be retained. According to the plan, the boulevard will become more bicycle-friendly and greener, without destroying its function as an important traffic axis.

Timing

The timing of the requested permit, just before the elections, is also not well received by Lamouline. Although, according to the minister’s spokeswoman, this is a “ridiculous point”. “We have been working on this plan for years, such a permit takes a lot of time and effort,” says Frooninckx.

In contrast to his colleague and fellow party member, the mayor of Ganshoren is pleased with the plan. “In general, I am satisfied, although I am concerned about the decrease in the number of parking spaces,” says Jean-Paul Van Laethem (Les Engagés). “We have seen the number of traders in the area suffering from the situation for years. The disappearance of parking spaces will not help. But this project is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Tram and tunnel

Instead of the proposed plan, Lamouline advocates the construction of a tram line and tunnel on Keizer Karellaan. Van Laethem is also in favor: “But the Region has clearly not chosen that option. There is no point in arguing against that, on the contrary, we must accept the proposed project and make the best of it.”

A tunnel is not a realistic option according to Frooninckx. “An undertunnel is very expensive and takes a lot of time. Moreover, we would have to expropriate houses for it,” says the spokeswoman. “This is about the quality of life for thousands of people, which we want to improve as quickly as possible.” A tram line, on the other hand, might be possible in the long term with this project. Although the mobility service does point out the existing tram lines in the area.

“Finally, Keizer Karellaan will become a city boulevard that not only accommodates car traffic, but also offers pedestrians and cyclists a safe path,” Minister Van den Brandt believes.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Busy gateway Brussels green city boulevard

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