Brussels, (Brussels Morning)- Brussels is stepping up the fight against trucks and buses that ignore the maximum height of a tunnel and thus cause nuisance. There are already automatic detection systems in the Annie Cordy and Hallepoort tunnels, and the Reyers Centre tunnel will soon be equipped with them. This is necessary, according to the figures for 2021: an oversized vehicle drove into a tunnel once every three days, says BRUZZ.
In 2021, it occurred 102 times in the tunnels managed by the Brussels Region: a truck or bus driver who ignored the maximum height, resulting in a lot of nuisance – for example, the closure of the tunnel. People are regularly confronted with the phenomenon in other large cities, such as Antwerp.
“The fact that this is happening more often these days is the result of a blind belief in GPS,” says mobility expert Kris Peeters (PXL University of Applied Sciences). “These navigation systems are often geared to the fastest route, according to the ‘time is money’ principle, where every minute counts. Many drivers are under pressure from tight time schedules. Incidentally, we do not only see this phenomenon in tunnels, elsewhere truckers in particular are increasingly getting stuck by blindly following the GPS and taking the fastest route.”
The two tunnels in Brussels where this phenomenon occurs most often are the Annie Cordytunnel and the Reyers-Meisertunnel. The latter won a prize 30 times last year; the first (which was then called the Leopold II tunnel) 24 times. These two tunnels are also at the top of this year’s provisional figures. “Logical,” says Inge Paemen of Brussels Mobility. “These are the tunnels along the main approach roads to Brussels.”
The Brussels Region is fully committed to prevention, says Paemen. “There are tunnels that are already equipped with automatic detection. When the oversized vehicle drives past the laser light of the height porch, an alarm sounds in the mobility centre. The red cross is then immediately switched on above the lane where the vehicle is driving. And the digital information board on the tunnel pediment shows the message ‘Too high – stop immediately’. At the same time, the tunnel is closed, even if the vehicle has still stopped in front of the tunnel, because even then there is an unsafe situation. The police arrive on the scene to direct traffic and guide the vehicle to exit the tunnel or tunnel zone. We are already using this system in the Annie Cordytunnel and the Hallepoorttunnel, and soon also in the Reyers-Centrumtunnel,
“When the tunnel does not yet have laser height porches, oversized vehicles are noticed by our operators who monitor the camera images of the Brussels tunnels 24/7. The procedure that then follows is the same,” said Paemen.
Sometimes ignoring the maximum height also leads to damage to the Brussels tunnels. Who pays for it then? “The damage is always recovered from the person who caused it,” says Paemen. “And if the driver continues to drive, the police can use the cameras to find out who it is.