The Bergwijk bridge is located in the north of Merelbeke, which is a municipality that borders the city of Ghent. The north of Merelbeke is marked by an urban character formed by the presence of major infrastructures such as the Ringvaart (ring canal), E40, R4, Hundelgemsesteenweg and railways. The municipality of Merelbeke participated in 2017 in a call from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the realization of bicycle bridges. De Vlaamse Waterweg, Zeeschelde – Zeekanaal division, the Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer (the Flemish Roads and Traffic Agency) and the Province of East Flanders joined forces to replace the Bergwijk Bridge, which dated from 1957.
The old bridge showed a lot of wear and tear after more than 60 years. Moreover, the bridge is extensively used by pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, and there was not enough space to install footpaths, cycle paths and a roadway for motor traffic. There had been talk for years already of building a bicycle and pedestrian bridge next to the existing bridge. But with the renovation of the Bergwijk bridge, there was an opportunity to optimize the design for safe and smooth crossing of the Ringvaart and R4 for cyclists and pedestrians alike. In doing so, the larger clearance of the new engineering structure can promote the further development of both national and international shipping.
The new Bergwijk bridge at Merelbeke spans both the Ringvaart and the R4 with a length of just over 100 meters. An important design requirement was that the new bridge had to match the original Bergwijk Bridge in terms of design and force distribution. This was a self-anchored concrete suspension bridge that was designed by Professor Vandepitte, a famous bridge designer from Ghent. A few bridges of this type were built across the Ringvaart. An externally post-tensioned concrete bridge, which is also known as an extradosed bridge, was therefore selected for the new bridge. The bridge derives its strength from subsequent prestressing that leaves the bridge section at the level of the relatively short pylons.
This design was partly the result of a comparative sustainability study in which both a life cycle analysis (LCA) and a life cycle costing (LCC) were performed. This study was undertaken in collaboration with VITO.
The project also tackled both banks of the Ringvaart over a length of +-200 meters. The original trapezoidal profile was thereby transformed into a box profile, which allows ships to cross even at low tide.
SBE took care of the entire study process on behalf of De Vlaamse Waterweg, including follow-up of the works.
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