Work starts on R4 East and West: complete, safer redesign for ring road around the Ghent part of North Sea Port

Published on Tue 28 May 2024
On Monday 27 May, the first spade went into the ground for the major works on the R4 East-West ring road around the Ghent part of the port area. By 2031, no fewer than 22 intersections will have been redesigned for safer traffic, cycling and integration with the surrounding port environment.

This marks the official launch of the second largest construction project in Flanders. Until the middle of next year, utility work will be carried out at various points in order to clear the necessary space. Then, in August 2025, the actual work on converting no fewer than 22 intersections on and along the R4, on both banks of the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, will begin. The work is currently scheduled to be completed by 2031. The overall project cost is €720 million. The new R4 will focus not only on cycling and road traffic, but also on nature and landscape.

For a safer port area with improved quality of life

In the future, the number of slip roads will be reduced and motorised traffic will be routed to the main intersections. New bridges, tunnels and subways will allow local traffic to pass under or over the R4. This will ensure smoother traffic flow and reduce the risk of dangerous situations between road users. It will also make links between residential areas around the port area and the R4 a lot safer. The bridges and tunnels will be part of the public space for many years to come, so an attractive and functional design has been chosen that blends into its surroundings.

Daan Schalck, CEO North Sea Port: "The R4WO ring road around the Ghent part of our port is one of the transport options besides rail, inland waterway and pipeline. An investment in safe road transport is therefore very much an investment in the future. After all, quality infrastructure remains an important factor in attracting investors."

Lydia Peeters Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works: ''This is a major milestone for the Flemish government. This Public-Private Partnership will dramatically improve liveability and mobility in the Ghent port area. This is the second largest construction project in Flanders, after Oosterweel in Antwerp. We therefore feel it is important to be here today to put the symbolic first spade into the ground. As a through road, the R4 is very important for the Ghent port area. The plans bode well for safe and smooth mobility between the port, residential centres and surrounding areas. The cycle bridges and cycle shafts will connect to segregated cycle paths and cycle highways, making cycling not only much safer in the area, but also much more pleasant. A very positive development."

At the same time, the port authority North Sea Port is investing €9 million in 8 km of additional cycle paths in the port area over the next five years, responding to increasing commuting by bike.

Contractor consortium BRAVO4 poised to start work

On the left bank of the canal (the R4 West), work is taking place between the E34 in Zelzate on the border with the Netherlands and the N9 in Wondelgem. On the right bank (the R4 East), work is underway on the R4 between Wachtebeke on the border to the 'Eurosilo' interchange in Oostakker, which is already complete.

The Werkvennotschap (operating company) owned by the Flemish government and the contractor consortium BRAVO4 will be responsible for the R4 East and West conversion. The Flemish government approved the agreement between the two parties on 22 March 2024. The consortium consists of BESIX, Stadsbader, Rebel, EPICo and I4B, The Belgian Infrastructure Fund. 

Matthias Diependaele, Flemish Minister for Finance and Budget: "The investment of €726 million (excluding VAT) for improved mobility and liveability on and around the R4 is substantial, but it is crucial for this area. Under the Public-Private Partnership, in which the Flemish government is working with the private consortium Bravo4, the private partner is responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance until 30 years after completion of the project."

Stay informed: subscribe to the newsletters

The works on the R4WO are extensive, will continue until 2031 and will have a major impact on all traffic. There are also quite a lot of works planned between the southernmost part of the ring road and the centre of Ghent, which will affect access to the port area. If you want to stay informed, subscribe to these newsletters:

  • for complete information about all the works on the ring road around the port in Ghent and Evergem
  • for complete information about the work between the centre of Ghent and the port area