BESIX is building an iconic bicycle bridge across the heath of the Hoge Kempen National Park for Toerisme Limburg vzw.
Wait a minute... isn’t that the same place where you can ‘Cycle though the Water’ and ‘Cycle through the Trees’?
Exactly, it’s all part of the unique cycling experiences that the province of Limburg is keen to create. This one consists of a 234m wooden bicycle bridge over the ‘Road to Zutendaal’. ‘Cycle through the Heath’ has many advantages: the bridge connects the National Park on both sides, gives cyclists and pedestrians a wonderful view of the moorland and offers them a safe place to cross.
Okay, a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. Fair enough, but what's exciting about that?
What’s special about the wooden ‘cycling jetty’ on concrete foundations is its design: cyclists and pedestrians will cycle and walk between two wooden walls, quite literally above the heath.
Sounds like fun! And the design has a link to the region's mining past?
Yes! Both in design as in the use of materials. The bridge's design is made up of an intricate structure of beams and columns. The concrete cycle path running through it will gradually increase and decrease. That structure recalls the former mines with their wooden struts. As for the materials used, the bridge will be made of Limburg pine, a second nod to the mining past when large quantities of conifer trees were planted to meet the demand for mine timber. Can you smell the pine trees?
A bridge and... anything else we need to consider?
Of course, in true BESIX style we always see the bigger picture. To reduce the impact on the landscape and increase the safety of road users, modifications will be made beneath the bridge.
The bicycle bridge itself will be prefabricated as much as possible and then assembled in situ. So, it will be a few months before the first sections of the wooden structure are visible on the site. The engineering works will be carried out in two stages to minimise the disruption caused.
Finally, a service road will also be built for the fire brigade and emergency services as this is an area of moorland, so passage must be guaranteed at all times, even during building works.
So... why BESIX ?
It’s a no-brainer basically. Sustainability, respect for fauna and flora, and a challenging design. Ding ding ding!
Besides... The Hoge Kempen National Park is the only National Park in Belgium which, together with the surrounding mining areas, is a candidate for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not just any construction site!
When can you plan your weekend trip?
The works will begin in June and are expected to take until November. The first cyclists should be able to cycle through the heath in early 2020.