• 12 kilometres of highway
  • 71 engineering structures
  • 423 million euro (exclusive of VAT) - construction budget
  • 400 employees on an average working day
  • 670 meter long - bridge deck without joints

Back in 2011, Jan De Nul, as frontrunner of the project company that realised the A11, did everything in its power to win the contract for this project. The innovative character of the engineering structures, the aestheticism and fully-fledged integration with the surrounding landscape, convinced the tendering Flemish administration to award the construction of the highway to Jan De Nul and its partners.

A constructional pièce-de-résistance

From original tender submission in 2011 up to final acceptance in mid-2017, and for the next thirty years, Jan De Nul can no doubt claim its pioneering role in the A11 project. Bart Callens, General Director of the project company: “In 2011, we played a steering role in drawing up the perfect tender in cooperation with our partners. We coordinated all works, guided the studies and consulted with architects and landscape architects. At our request, every partner pulled out all the stops to develop the best possible solution for the tendered works, which, in turn, created extra construction challenges for us. This led to a particularly interesting interaction between the partners, which continuously stimulated one another to come up with even better solutions. As such, this mega-project rightly bears the quality label engineered by Jan De Nul.”

"Simple constructions can be extremely difficult to make!"

Seventy one engineering structures. This is, essentially, how Jan De Nul describes the A11 project. This sounds plausible as these engineering structures (bridges, tunnels, viaducts...) are the heart, soul and backbone of Flanders’ newest highway. The solutions suggested by Jan De Nul went a lot further than the requirements set by the administration: “Obviously, that’s something you might expect from us when it comes to the engineering part of the project. But we also considered the landscape and the needs of local residents. These are new sensitivities for engineers. Today, the increasing involvement of society in this kind of mega-projects plays an important part. The fact that we anticipated these sensitive aspects and offered practical solutions, is no doubt one of the reasons why the Flemish administration awarded this project to us”, confirms Bart Callens.

“Mind you, the decision to go for innovative techniques was not only taken out of conviction but also had economic motives”, adds Project Director Geert Versweyveld (responsible for the actual construction project). “Our approach will drastically reduce the maintenance costs as well as the nuisance to road users and local residents during construction. For the contract period of 30 years, customary in DBFM-projects, and beyond, simpler and smarter constructions warrants less and more cost effective maintenance."

A feather in everyone's hat

Also after the opening of the A11 in September 2017, Bart Callens still likes to look back on this project, particularly on the moment at which Jan De Nul Group got the go-ahead from the Flemish Roads and Traffic Agency. “Much to the astonishment of some that still don’t know Jan De Nul Group as a company specialising in civil engineering contracts. Marks were awarded on the basis of cost and engineering quality, in equal proportions. We focused quite strongly on ‘engineering quality’ and this was probably the decisive factor to award the project to us. Apart from the choice for an integral and thus maintenance-friendly design, there was also the added value in terms of architectural and scenic quality to consider. And, finally, the sustainability aspect. Did you know that soon a wind turbine will cover most of the electricity consumption? In the near future, the lighting along the A11 will be powered by wind energy. How’s that for a beautiful symbiotic relationship with the wonderful polder landscape?"

"We focused strongly on 'engineering quality'."

“The best thing is that we can look back with pride”, adds Geert Versweyveld. “In practise, we can detect no real differences between the plans and reality, that’s a feather in the hat of all employees and partners that were involved. Engineers, engineering offices, architects, office employees and the workers that ensured the execution all gave it their best for six consecutive years. An overall technical masterpiece that has set a new standard in Flanders, and quite rightly so.”

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