Accelerated construction and time savings: Hendriks precon supplies critical formwork for the Oosterweel LinkPrestigious international project

The Antwerp Ring Road (R1) is well known for its traffic congestion. Because the ring road is incomplete and there are no alternative routes, there are long traffic jams here every day. The construction of the Oosterweel Link is designed to close the Antwerp Road Ring to significantly improve accessibility to the city and the port of Antwerp, as well as the quality of life in Antwerp and its surroundings. This link is included in the Flemish government’s 2020 Master Plan: sixteen infrastructure projects with improvement projects for pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation, ships, cars and freight transport. This prestigious international project includes various elements, such as sunken routes, various civil works and multiple tunnel structures. The Scheldt Tunnel is one of these tunnel structures.

Knowledge and experience

The Scheldt Tunnel is a key link in the Oosterweel Link and crosses the Scheldt River. This tunnel is constructed using submersible elements. Due to our knowledge and experience in this area, with references such as the Second Coen Tunnel, and more recently the Blankenburger Tunnel, the contractor consortium TM COTU, consisting of BESIX, Stadsbader Contractors, DEME Infra, DEME Dredging and Jan De Nul, invited Hendriks precon at an early stage to join them in designing and supplying the necessary formwork.

Effective formwork is half the battle

After a detailed engineering and draughting process, which of course had to take all applicable requirements, standards, planned work processes and construction time into account, this ultimately resulted in a contract award to supply all of the required formwork for the construction of the tunnel elements. The various formwork components consist of a combination of floor formwork and mobile wall and tunnel formwork. These are designed such that the formwork can be relocated and assembled with relatively few workers. For example, many moving parts are fully hydraulically driven. As a result, the construction crews are able to achieve a construction cycle of two weeks for a complete set of floor, wall and tunnel formwork.


The eight required concrete tunnel elements each have a dimension of approx 42 x 160 m and an estimated weight of approx 60,000 tonnes each. The tunnel elements are constructed in a temporary construction dock in the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium. To achieve maximum construction efficiency, the client has decided to make use of a double set of formwork. This provides for a double parallel construction stream inside the construction dock. In the meantime all of the formwork has been assembled inside the construction dock and the construction of the first two tunnel elements is already in full swing. As soon as all tunnel elements are ready, the construction dock will be flooded and the elements will be floated, one by one, under controlled conditions, after which they will be towed to Antwerp via the North Sea and the Western Scheldt estuary. Such colossal elements require very precise work, whereby weather conditions and water flows present a further challenge. Once it is ready, the tunnel will be 1.8 km long and will be subdivided into two sets of three lanes each and a separate tube for cyclists. Thousands of road users are expected to make use of the tunnel each day.

It is a vital project and we are especially proud to have been invited to work on it.

Cooperation and trust

As a result of the excellent cooperation and the client’s trust in our expertise, we have since been asked to design and supply the formwork for the tunnel’s entrance and exit on the left bank in Antwerp for this project.

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