Bam, Besix win place on €570m contract to tunnel under Antwerp’s River Scheldt

A consortium of Bam Contractors, Besix, Deme and Jan De Nul has won a €570m contract to build a 1.8-km-long, immersed tube tunnel under the River Scheldt in Antwerp.

The tunnel is part of an overhaul of the Belgian city’s road network – the Oosterweel link – that will see its R1 ring road closed and direct links built between the port and other main districts.

The tunnel will have two tubes for motorway traffic and a separate tube for cyclists and pedestrians.

The consortium will build eight, 60,000 tonne concrete parts of the tunnel in the inner port of Zeebrugge and tow each by sea to Antwerp for immersion in a pre-dredged trench.

"This technique, in which gravity and the upward force of water are constantly competing with each other, is one of the most ingenious building methods in concrete and hydraulic construction," Bam said in a press release. 

Bam said the project was challenging, and set in a "technically difficult environment", but that "the partners are confident that they have the necessary expertise and decades of experience to successfully achieve the realisation of this vital stage of the Oosterweel link project".

Preparatory work on the Scheldt tunnel will begin in autumn 2020, with construction due to begin in summer 2021.

The Oosterweel link is needed to "solve the bottlenecks and mobility problems in the Antwerp region", the project’s website said.

To win the job, the four contractors formed the Tijdelijke Handelsvennootschap Combinatie Oosterweeltunnel (THV COTU) consortium.

Image courtesy of Bam/Antwerp

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