Second largest construction site in Flanders launched: total renovation for R4 West and East between Ghent and Port of Ghent

29 May 2024

Monday 27 May, all parties involved in the R4WO project gathered in Ghent for the official and festive kick-off of the construction works. Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, along with the Flemish Minister for Finance and Budget took the floor, together with representatives  from De Werkvennootschap, the BRAVO4 consortium, the City of Ghent and the municipalities of Evergem and Wachtebeke. BRAVO4 is now starting  preparatory works on and alongside the R4 West and East, the ring road around the Ghent section of the North Sea Port area. In August 2025, the actual construction of the conversion will begin: 22 intersections along the R4. The total project, with a construction cost of €726 million, focuses not only on bycle and road traffic, but also on nature and landscape.

This is the second largest active construction site in Flanders, after Oosterweel. Therefore, the start of the works is not only a milestone for the Ghent region but for all of Flanders. This Public-Private Partnership will drastically improve the liveability and mobility in the Ghent port area. Four quick wins have already been realised in recent years, including the turbo traffic circle and three cycle bridges. With the conversion of the R4 we are opting for safe and smooth mobility between the port, the residential areas and the surrounding areas and for bicycle safety. We are putting an end to unsafe intersections and constructing non-level crossings so that cyclists and local traffic no longer intersect with the fast and heavy traffic on the R4. The cycle bridges and underpasses connect to segrgated cycle paths and cycle highways, making cycling not only safer in the area, but also much more pleasant.

Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works

The construction cost of €726 million (excluding VAT) for improved mobility and liveability around the R4 is substancial but crucial for this area. The Public-Private Partnership, in which the Flemish government sought and found a private consortium Bravo4 will ensure that this private partner is responsible for design, construction, financing and maintenance for 30 years after the completion of the project. The Flemish government will then pay an availability fee to the private partner over those 30 years. This formula makes it possible to carry out large projects like this without weighing too heavily on our budget. For exemple, consider the A11 between Bruges and Westkapelle, which was also executed as a PPP. I am very proud that we can still realize such large projects in Flanders. 

Flemish Minister for Finance and Budget

Together for a safer port area

The new R4 will connect environment, people and nature. With the project, traffic on the R4 will be smoother and safer, and the surrounding neighbourhoods will be quieter and more accessible. This involves the section of the R4 in the west side from N9 in Wondelgem to the E34 in Zelzate and on the east side from 'Eurosilo' intersection in Oostakker to Wachtebeke. With this conversion, the Flemish government is investing in smoother and safer car traffic with liveable residential areas and safe and comfortable cycle paths.

The project is a signifcant investment (construction cost of 726 million euros excl. VAT) in liveability around the R4. In the future, the number of on- and off ramps will decrease and motorised traffic will move smoothly from North Ghent to the Ghent port area without encountering level instersections. Thanks to new bridges, tunnels and underpasses, local traffic can drive under or over the R4. This will allow traffic to flow more smoothly, reducing the likelihood of dangerous situations among road users. This will also make the connection between residential areas on either side of the R4 a lot safer.

The bridges and tunnels will be part of the public space for years to come. Therefore, a beautiful and functional design that blends into the environment has been chosen. 

Consortium BRAVO4 takes the lead

In the summer of 2021, the BRAVO4 consortium was designated as the preferred bidder. The consortium consists of BESIX, EPICo, I4B - The Belgian Infrastructure Fund, RID PPP (Rebel and Abrdn) and Stadsbader. They submitted a tender with the best price-quality ration for carrying out the DBFM (Design, Build, Finance and Maintain) contract. The cooperation between De Werkvennootschap and the BRAVO4 consortium for the R4WO project was officially established on 7 May 2024 with the 'contract close' and 'financial close'. This happened after the Flemish government approved the agreement on 22 March 2024. 

BRAVO4 is now responsible for the conversion of the R4 East and West to the north of Ghent through a DBFM formula: Design, Build, Finance and Maintenance over 30 years are entrusted to BRAVO4 in an integrated manner.

Reaction BRAVO4: "BESIX, EPICo, I4B - The Belgian Infrastructure Fund, RID PPP (Rebel and Abrdn) and Stadsbader are proud to start this project together with De Werkvennootschap. R4WO stands for connection: by ensuring safe traffic, we connect neighbourhoods, living communities, people and nature. As a consortium, we are fully committed to this vision. The coming years will involve intense work, but the result will be worth it: an R4 environment that is safer, more accessible and more sustainable. 

Cooperation between De Werkvennootschap and BRAVO4

De Werkvennootschap (the organisation of the Flemish government that supports major and complex mobility projects) and BRAVO4 (the consortium chosen to carry out the works) will start the actual construction works for the conversion of the R4 West and East in 2024. This Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is different from a traditional tender. The BRAVO4 consortium finances the project itself and will receive an availability fee from the Flemish government over 30 years. This allows the government to select a party based on more qualitative criteria such as design contributions, execution techniques, lifecycle approach, mitigating measures and environmental management. 

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