Mott MacDonald is lenders’ technical advisor on the Albert Canal – Cluster 1 public-private partnership (PPP) project in Flanders, Belgium. The €300 million major expansion of the canal will allow vessels to stack up to four layers of shipping containers.
40 million tonnes of goods are transported annually via the Albert Canal, which connects the Port of Antwerp with the Liège industry area. However, the height and width restrictions of existing bridges limit the canal’s potential to act as a major transportation route. To enable the passing of bigger container vessels, de Vlaamse Waterweg plans to raise 32 bridges across the Albert Canal to 9.10m above canal level and increase the canal width at the bridges.
The Albert Canal – Cluster 1 scheme is made up of seven bridges within the programme, located at Eigenbilzen, Zutendaal, Stokrooie, Kwaadmechelen Zwartenhoek, Eindhout, Geel-Stelen and Herentals-Lier. The existing bridges will be replaced by approximately 120m tall steel arch bridges.
Mott MacDonald provided technical due diligence to the lenders to support financial close, including reviewing potential issues arising from the design, environment and construction and maintenance approaches. The consultancy also analysed possible risks from the project agreement and construction and operational sub-contracts. Throughout the next stages of the project, Mott MacDonald will carry out construction and maintenance monitoring services.
Anne Verhallen, Mott MacDonald’s project director, said: “We have played an instrumental role in making this deal bankable by drawing on our experience of similar Belgian PPP infrastructure projects. This included closing any knowledge gaps between the lenders and contractor, for instance in their understanding of Belgium’s design, build, finance and maintain contract structure which is fairly new to these types of schemes.”
Construction of the new bridges will be finished in several stages, with the final bridge scheduled to complete by the middle of 2020.