Bridges

 

Centre lift bridge (Saint Léger, Estaimpuis).
Works completed

Mauroy lift bridge (Saint Léger, Estaimpuis).
Work completed

Denis footbridge (Marcq-en-Barœul)
Works completed

Pont des Couteaux bridges
(Roubaix)
Works commenced in February 2007, in progress

Halage footbridge (Wasquehal)
Works completed

Passerelle du Hâlage

Nouveau Monde bridge (Roubaix)
Works completed

Carliers footbridge (Tourcoing)
Works completed

'Grande Vigne' bridge (Roubaix)
Works completed

Wattrelos footbridge (Roubaix).
Works completed

The Espierres bridge (Tourcoing) is one of the 7 projects that will be restored during 2007. It will be a fixed structure like the one at Wasquehal.

Espierres bridge in Tourcoing

Works on the other bridges (Fontenoy, Daubenton, Halot, Espierres, Blanc Seau, Grimonpont and Wasquehal) are almost completed in July 2008.

 

Locks

Lock with the old manual paddle gear, to be reinstalled on the new gates for their value as heritageThe canal has 15 locks in all: two on the canalised river Marque, 10 on the Roubaix Canal and 3 on the Espierres Canal in Belgium.
The canal crosses a watershed at an altitude of 33 metres, which it reaches via 7 locks on the Deûle side, then dropping through 8 locks to the river Escaut.

13 locks had to be restored. Works included replacing the lock-gates, strengthening the masonry and fitting new paddles and operating equipment. The 5 locks on the Deûle side (commune of Wasquehal) and the 5 locks on the Scheldt side (communes of Roubaix and Wattrelos in France) were ready during the summer of 2006. Each lock will be operated through a new remote-controlled system for automated opening and closing of the gates, filling and emptying.

The 3 locks of the canal de l'Espierre in Belgium (Leers-Nord, Estaimpuis et Warcoing) were also ready to operate in the autumn of 2006.

Photo above, a lock with the old manual paddle gear, reinstalled on the new gates for their value as heritage.

Leers-Nord lock completed in September 2006

Cartes du canal de Roubaix

 

Les 3 écluses côté belge

Towpath and landscaping 

The project includes the rehabilitation of existing paths or the laying out of new paths, accompanied by landscape improvements, providing an attractive continuous path throughout the canal's length, contributing to its new identity and to its ecological role.

The first section from the Deûle to the centre of Marcq en Baroeul was completed by the end of January 2006.

The section along the Tourcoing branch was completed in June 2006.

The path along the Croix branch was also completed by the automn of 2006. This is a completely new path, which now offers pedestrians and cyclists an uninterrupted link along this branch of the canal, which is treated as a landscaped park without restoration to navigability.

In Marcq-en-Baroeul, a new section of path is now (early 2007) being built cantilevered over the canal under the motorway bridge in the rue du Château Rouge; this will restore continuity of the towpath, occupied by an access road at this point.

On the Belgian side (works carried out by the MET) the bank protection works, the paths and the landscaping have all been completed.

Bank protection

The bank protection works in France began in the spring of 2006 on the Leers pound, and are gradually progressing towards Roubaix.

 

Control/interpretation Centre and 'Maison du Canal' 

The locks will be controlled from the centre fitted out in the Union lock cottage in Roubaix. It is here that all the lock and bridge opening sequences will be monitored on the French part of the link. It is planned to open the centre to visits by small groups on reservation, in order to make the population aware of the reality of operation of the waterway, a complex system!

The wider functions of documentation and interpretation of the canal's history interlinked with local industry will be housed in another site on or close to the canal, currently under discussion among the partners.

The Maison du Canal at Leers-Nord in Belgium will no longer be built with the extension initially envisaged, the project authority finally preferring a treatment of the site more in tune with its heritage dimension.

> See the 'Maison du Canal' fiche

Artist's view of the Control center

Dredging - preparation of the disposal sites

Dredging is without doubt the most complex part of the entire project, involving the removal and disposal of 245 000 m3 of sediments.

Preparation of the disposal area

On 18 September 2006 Ghent dredging started preparing the PCUK disposal site in Wattrelos. First the area was cleared. Then the retaining basins were excavated by diggers and bulldozers. Finally an impermeable lining was laid out over the whole site. 

On completion of these preparatory works, which took 3 months, the first dredging spoil was deposited on the site in January 2007. The techniques chosen to handle the dredging works and develop the PCUK site were determined in part by the final objective of converting the whole area into a natural open space accessible to the public. Strict precautions were taken at all stages in the process to ensure this goal. Articulated dumper trucks shift the sediments within the site and mix the material several times in order to accelerate drainage and drying. A second part of of the PCUK site is found in the commune of Leers on the south of the canal.

Another site is ready to receive dredging spoil in Wasquehal, where the procedures will be less complex, nevertheless careful precautions still have to be taken.

Dredging

The actual dredging started in January 2007. A fleet of up to seven barges, moved by push-tugs, operates between the dredging site and the quay which formerly served the PCUK factory.

Each barge carries between 90 and 125 tonnes of sediments. The rate of progress is rapid to begin with, approximately 4000 m3/week. But as the dredging site moves further away from the disposal area, the rate decreases on account of the time required to move the spoil to the site. It will thus gradually drop to 1500 m3/week. At this point the locks will be operating incessantly, locking through 2 barges per hour.

Even if some bridges are not finished before Spring 2007, the barges and their push-tugs are designed to go the lift bridges with their decks in the lowered position. Even the "pont des Couteaux" offers an available headroom of 1.50m.

A unique cross-border agreement

On the Belgian side their are still some issues to be resolved in detail. However, the overall picture is clear. In the absence of suitable land for disposal near the Espierre Canal, Pierre Mauroy, President of Lille metropolitan council, has undertaken a commitment to receive the Belgian sediments on French soil. Between 40 000 and 60 000 cubic metres of sediment will thus be disposed of in France, which makes this a shining model of European cooperation, and an unheard-of solution to such a delicate problem. The exact volume dredged and dumped on a dedicated part of the PCUK site was the subject of negotiations involcing VNF, LMCU, the MET and the Walloon Region. In drawing up this solution, both countries referred to European legislation on the export of waste materials.

See also the Dredging page

Urban regeneration

Large urban development projects, and smaller ones, are associated with the Blue Links programme.
See the Urban development page

Credits

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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