Work Starts on the Biggest Lock in the World in the Port of Antwerp.
In the Port of Antwerp the construction of the second lock on the Left Bank has officially started. Over the coming years the new construction project will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Belgium, with 255 people working daily on building the biggest lock in the world. The lock is due to open in 2016 and will cost around EUR 340 million of which 50% will be financed by the European Investment Bank. The Flemish KBC Bank is also making available a EUR 81 million credit line, with the balance being provided by the Antwerp Port Authority and the Flemish Government.
In recent years the development of the Port of Antwerp has been concentrated on the Left Bank. With a number of important projects planned, such as the lengthening of the Verrebroek dock and the development of the Saeftinghe zone, a second point of access to the sea is essential. "The second lock is key to the further expansion of our port on the Left Bank of the Scheldt," said Alderman for the Port Marc Van Peel. "With a second lock and the deepening of the Scheldt completed last year, the AntwerpPort Authority is responding in an appropriate manner to the increase in the scale of shipping traffic and we are maintaining our position as the number two in Europe."
The new lock will be at the end of the Deurganck dock and will provide the link to the sea between the Scheldt and the Waasland Canal. The lock will give shipping rapid access to all other docks on the Left Bank: the Doel dock, the Verrebroek dock, the Vrasene dock and the North and South Insteek dock. The design of the new lock will be based on that of the Berendrecht lock, which currently holds the title of biggest lock in the world. Like the Berendrecht lock, it will be 500 metres long and 68 metres wide. The new lock - at 17.80 metres below the local datum level - will be deeper than the Berendrecht lock and thus rank as the biggest lock in the world when it opens in 2016. Pulling of this difficult feat will of course be no easy matter. Over the next few years no less than 9.1 million mcubed of earth will be excavated. Some 22 000 tons of structural steel will be used, three times the amount required to build the Eiffel Tower.