Everywhere in Flanders, substantial investments are being made in new cycle highways. For the construction of the F4 cycle highway between Ghent and Antwerp, the current section near Sint-Niklaas creates an unsafe situation for soft road users. The route will therefore be adapted so that it runs parallel to the railway line, with a grade-separated junction at Vijfstraten and a level junction at Nieuwe Molenstraat. Thanks to its integrated approach, SBE has been chosen to take on the entire design study.
The proposed route is an almost straight, above-ground connection that guarantees optimal comfort for the cyclist. Different variants have been developed in respect of cycling comfort, as well as flow, cycling safety, spatial impact, legibility and timing/feasibility.
The design for the cycle bridge strives for an elegant, slender construction, which turns the span of 93 metres into a flowing, comfortable movement. This is where architectural and technical design go hand in hand. The steel bridge is designed as a single U-shaped profile with a continuous transverse section. Each architectural component is also used to provide added value in terms of stability. For example, the parapets have decorative perforations or are laser-cut, taking into account the forces at work. In order to achieve the desired slenderness and to maximise the free height under the bridge, an elegant pillar is provided after the span of 60m over Vijfstraten.
The section is located within dense urban surroundings next to a railway embankment. Wherever possible, a natural embankment is therefore provided; overgrown with local partly shrub-like plants, it serves as a green vein in the otherwise harsh landscape. Only in places where this is not possible or desirable due to lack of space, will a natural embankment be replaced by a supporting foundation. This supporting foundation will be developed as a green element based on reinforced soil and the use of geogrids and geocells. This has several advantages. The most obvious is to continue the line of green embankments in these supporting foundations, so that for the neighbouring plots there is a continuation of the landscape. There is also no risk of damage to the existing retaining wall as a result of vibrations during construction. Any necessary checks during work in respect of possible items on the track are carried out in consultation with Infrabel.
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