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Using waterways to transport construction materials in Ghent

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City: Ghent
Audience: Urban Center
Topic: Urban Freight Logistics
Step in the SUMP cycle: Step 10: Manage implementation

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Activity description

A lot of building is currently taking place in Ghent’s historic city centre. However, the related heavy traffic causes problems, such as noise and air pollution, stench and other health risks. The Flanders Institute of Mobility (VIM), an independent organisation commissioned by the Flanders Government to implement sustainable mobility solutions, tested an initiative that would transport building materials to an inner-city construction site using Ghent’s narrow waterway network.

Lessons learned

The project uses a special flat type of vessel (a push barge/pusher combination). These vessels were modified to cope with the inner cities’ water network’s limitations. By partly demolishing the wheelhouse and lowering the on-board hydraulic crane, the vessels were able to pass underneath low bridges. Besides modifications to the vessels, reducing the water level also played a role, solving the problems posed by the height of the vessel. By establishing a consolidation centre on the edge of the city, construction materials could be packed into single delivery units which were delivered to the construction site using a push barge, specially equipped with an on-board hydraulic crane. The push barge carries up to 120 tonnes and was especially useful in removing debris from the site to the recycling centre, located just off the consolidation centre. The use of a consolidation centre showed that a number of logistic activities related to an inner-city construction site can be performed off-site.  This removes from the site time-consuming and other auxiliary tasks that require extra space. The project demonstrated successfully that even small boats or ships can be used to replace HGVs for the transport of construction materials to and from inner-city construction sites.