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Fixed and movable bridges and footbridges

Restoration of the Deûle-Escaut waterway to navigation involves rehabilitating many structures along the route. A number of fixed or movable bridges, mainly for pedestrians, are under responsibility of the Lille Metropolitan Area (Communauté Urbaine). The works on these structures, described here, represent a total budget of around €1.1 million.

Coupled with landscaping works and resurfacing of the former towpath as a multi-use path, these bridges are designed to allow walkers (and cyclists) to come and go as they please throughout the length of the canal, crossing it where the original towpath changed sides or crossed branches, or at certain other strategic locations.

Certain structures with remarkable heritage value, somewhat neglected in the past, are enhanced and will now be restored to their former glory! Now, in mid-January, all the fixed bridges have been completed, except for the Espierre bridge in Tourcoing.

The Denis footbridge at Marcq en Baroeul

New feature in the canal landscape!

Located in Marcq en Baroeul near the rue du Vieux Four, this bridge originally carried the topwath from one side of the canalised river Marque to the other. It will now open up more possibilities for recreational use. The original structure was in reinforced concrete, but it had deteriorated beyond repair, so that a completely new structure was required.

The architectural preference of the local council and LMCU was for a "bow-string" bridge, with two sweeping blue arcs across the canal. A lighter, more graceful structure, this footbridge now acts as a landmark on the route. The bridge deck is in timber planking. The existing abutments were repaired and adapted to receive the new deck, and landscape improvements were made to the towpath on either side of the footbridge.

The new structure has been in service since the summer 2006.

Denis footbridge: October 2005. Removal of the former reinforced concrete deck.
The new footbridge is craned into position and laid on its abutments. 

Wattrelos footbridge

Rebuilt to original spec!

This graceful riveted iron footbridge dates from 1923. It is located at Grand’Rue in Roubaix, beside the lift-bridge of the same name. The lift-bridge for vehicle traffic bridge was rehabilitated by VNF under the first phase of works in the period 2000 to 2002.  

The footbridge allows pedestrians and cyclists to cross when the lift-bridge is raised for boats to pass. Because of its unique architectural character, the project partners programmed the rehabilitation of the footbridge to its original specification.

The principal components of the structure are the two riveted cast iron arcs with a span of almost 21 metres. The footbridge was entirely reassembled using traditional techniques, and is now in service.

August 2005.
The bridge is removed and placed on a low-level trailer. It is taken to a specialist workshop for restoration. 

Carliers footbridge

Initial state

Situated in Tourcoing at the junction of the Roubaix canal and the Tourcoing branch between the Rue du Viaduc and the Quai de Gravelines, this reinforced concrete accommodation bridge now provides a useful connection between two districts of the town. In this case, rehabilitation involved repairing and replacing the concrete, the seals and the abutments.

Towpath accommodation bridge in Wasquehal

This footbridge in Wasquehal carries the towpath across the junction with the Croix branch of the canal. It now also provides a valuable link between different districts within the commune. In particular, it is the principal route for pedestrians from the town centre to the Dehaut urban farm. No significant alteration has been made to this structure, but some concrete members and seals had to be repaired, and the abutments made good. The works were completed in late 2005.

Nouveau Monde bridge

The Nouveau Monde lock and bridge are just opposite the Roubaix cemetery, at the end of Rue Ampère. Reconstruction of this bridge provides pedestrian access for inhabitants of this part of Roubaix, and allows towpath walkers to change sides. In particular, it gives access from the east bank to the Boulevard de Strasbourg and links up several public open spaces including the Visitation Park (former convent), sports grounds and the landscaped cemetery itself.

Built in reinforced concrete, the Nouveau Monde bridge was a massive structure, wide enough for vehicle traffic and two pavements. Rehabilitation here meant building a completely new deck, reinforcing the abutments, fitting new railings, and repairing the seals under the roadway and the pavements.

Rehabilitation of this structure was the result of a particular design effort in collaboration with the architect responsible for heritage issues in the departément Nord. The transition on the structure as built between full and open parapets has thus been reinforced by fitting new railings on the span acorss the lock entrance, while on either side the reinforced concrete panels accentuate the mass of the original abutments. The span in the middle gives an almost boat-like aspect to the whole, and offers transparency along the centre line of the canal.



Initial state

8 November 2005. Below left, the new bridge. Right, removal of the sectioned bridge deck.

Wasquehal footbridge

This bridge is in a strategic position on the route, since it links the canal with Wasquehal town centre. This was originally a conventional lift-bridge, but over the years it sustained such extensive damage that the superstructure enabling the deck to be lifted could no longer be repaired. Where it was relocated, beside the Croix branch which is no longer navigable anyway, the bridge no longer needs to be raised, so the superstructure was removed. Only the bridge deck was repaired.

Espierre lift-bridge

This structure is in Tourcoing, almost at the end of the Tourcoing branch. In this location it no longer needs to be movable, so full restoration was not required. Its restoration with the superstructure retained as an architectural feature is planned in the course of this year. This is the last structure to be restored under the Blue Links contract. The works are expected to last 4 months, and will be completed by June 2008.

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Site managed by Lille Metropolitan Council for the project partners:
Voies Navigables de France, Wallonian Ministry of Public Works, Nord-Pas de Calais Conseil Régional, Conseil Général du Nord, Préfecture du Nord-Pas de Calais and Artois-Picardie Water Agency