Brussels Pedestrianisation – Gotthard Reopens

New traffic circulation in central Brussels from Monday as pedestrian zone doubles in size.

Also, overnight ‘migrant disturbance’ at Eurotunnel freight France. The north stretch of the Gotthard Pass reopens ahead of a Black Saturday in Switzerland. 2016 Austria vignette still good value compared to neighbours. A spot check on commercial vehicles in Belgium finds a significant but improved failure rate.

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Brussels Stock Exchange, part of the area to pedestrianized from Monday. More later.

The Brussels’ Stock Exchange and Beursplein with Anspachlaan running across. Photo @DriveEurope.

Brussels will undergo its most radical change in 100 years next week as the central pedestrian area doubles in size.

From next Monday (29 June), the Beursplein square around the Stock Exchange along with Anspachlaan, the main shopping street which crosses Beursplein – plus other, surrounding streets – will be barred to vehicles in this central area as the existing pedestrian area grows from 28 to 50 acres.

The new no-car zone will be one of the largest in Europe.

However, the new circulation plan will be reviewed next year. In a statement City of Brussels says, ‘Because it is 100 years since the whole city was so radically changed, it is – despite extensive studies – hard to predict how people will adapt to the new situation. Study and practice may differ. Therefore, an eight month test phase is needed.’

Traffic on more than twenty streets will be redirected to create a (mostly) one-way anticlockwise ring road around the centre, well inside the R20 Pentagon ring road, primarily intended to speed cars to parking places.

Meanwhile, transit traffic between the north and south of the city will be directed to the R20.

The only road inside the new ‘local ring’ open to traffic will be Rue Lombard, and only from its eastern end.

Aside from potential gridlock as drivers get used to the new arrangements, the major difficulty is likely to be commercial deliveries. Under the new rules, vans and trucks will only be allowed into the centre until 11:00. A new CityDepot will open in the centre to forward consignments by bike or cart says deredactie.be.

See the new traffic plan, in English, on the City of Brussels website or our recent ‘Driving in the Brussels Pentagon’.

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Fingers crossed the north stretch of the Gotthard Pass in the Schollenen Gorge (above) does reopen on time this afternoon because it’s a Black Saturday in Switzerland tomorrow. Heavy traffic is forecast heading north and south. Inevitably that means hour’s long delays at the A2 Gotthard Tunnel. Meanwhile it is expected to be a very busy getaway from Paris starting at 14:00 this afternoon, and again tomorrow but less so. Busiest however will be Germany – see here for a roundup. Substantial delays are also possible on the A22 Brennero motorway between Innsbruck and Verona.

Thankfully the north stretch of the Gotthard Pass – in the Schollenen Gorge (above) – reopened on schedule this afternoon because tomorrow is a Black Saturday in Switzerland. Heavy traffic is forecast heading north and south; inevitably that means hours’ long delays at the A2 Gotthard Tunnel. Taking the pass instead is one of the best ways to avoid the queues. Meanwhile it is also expected to be a very busy getaway from Paris from 14:00 this afternoon (and again tomorrow but less so). Busiest however will be Germany – see here for a roundup. Substantial delays are also possible on the A22 Brennero motorway between Innsbruck and Verona.

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roundup: EUROTUNNEL. After the freight service in France was suspended during the night due to a ‘security incident’, the company tells us this morning that, ‘There was migrant disturbance overnight however we managed to contain it to a minimum and still kept a service running. We also cleared the majority of the backlog of trucks overnight.’ Services from the UK ran throughout and resumed from France at around 07:00. Delays this morning are apparently due to the number of trucks being security and Border Forced checked. AUSTRIA. The price of the 2016 vignette will increase by 1.5% says state roads manager ASFINAG today. Ten days for a vehicle up to 3.5t is €8.80, two months at €25.70 and annually €85.70 They go on sale from the end of November and are valid from 1 December (as in Switzerland, the annual vignette lasts for 14 months, until 31 January the following year). As ASFINAG points out, the Austrian 10 day sticker – allowing unlimited miles on motorways and expressways – is reasonable value compared to other countries. At 2015 prices, the same costs €9.50 in Hungary (2750HUF) and €10 in Slovakia while the seven day Slovenia vignette is €15. ASFINAG is completely funded by toll revenue. BELGIUM. Recent spot checks on 8574 vehicles found one in eight trucks and buses failed to meet safety standards reports Deredactie.be. However, the 12.6% failure rate is an improvement on the 14% recorded during similar checks last year. The most common defect was faulty headlights (37%) with a fifth having poor brakes. Seven percent had worn tyres.

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