Concern about Gentbrugge Viaduct after Genoa bridge collapse

Like the Morandi Bridge in Genoa the viaduct that carries the E17 motorway through the Ghent (East Flanders) suburb of Gentbrugge was built in the 1960’s. The viaduct was constructed using similar materials to the bridge in the Italian city that collapsed killing at least 39 people on Tuesday.

The residents’ group ViaduKaduk that campaigns to reduce noise hindrance and pollution around the viaduct told VRT Radio 2 East Flanders that “We are not afraid that it will collapse, but the Gentbrugge Viaduct displays defects for which a solution needs to be found urgently”.

Residents group vzw Viadukaduk

Although the people of Gentbrugge don’t feat the collapse of the viaduct that carries the motorway over their district, the tragedy in Genoa has served to make people more concerned. One woman that walks her dog under the viaduct every day told VRT Radio 2 that she has questions about its safety. A cyclist said that it would better to keep the viaduct well-maintained rather than waiting for it to deteriorate so that major repairs are needed.

Like the bridge in Genoa the viaduct in Gentbrugge is made of pre-stressed concrete. Viadukaduk’s Hans Verbeeck says that he and his group don’t fear that the viaduct will collapse. Viadukaduk is a resident’s group that was set up 4 years ago. It has long complained of the state of the viaduct and would like an alternative be found in the long term.  

"However, in the meantime a thorough renovation is really needed”, Mr Verbeeck said. He added that pieces of concrete the size of a fist often fall of the viaduct and that the rebar is visible. The viaduct is in a densely populated area and many people walk under it every day.

However, “There is a lack of cash and a long term vision”.

Although, the residents’ group has good contact with the Roads and Traffic Agency, the Agency doesn’t have the means to address the issues relating to the viaduct effectively.  

The Flemish Roads and Traffic Agency has known for four years that the Gentbrugge Viaduct needs thorough renovation, but is tied by financial constraints and red tape. Irene van der Craats told Radio 2 that the viaduct is subjected to annual check and where necessary minor repairs are carried out. She added that other bridges and viaducts are checked only once every 3 to 5 years. Ms van der Craats said that major work on the viaduct should start next year.