Decision Making Process on the Antwerp Oosterweel Link: Lessons Learnt

The Oosterweel link (completion of the Antwerp ring road, including a river Scheldt crossing) was planned to be the largest infrastructure project ever built in Belgium. It started as a noiseless process for more than fifteen years, the decision seemed to be taken in 2008: the reference design was approved and a DBFM consortium selected. Then the project became controversial. Action groups dominated the debate and could enforce a public referendum. The project was rejected by the Antwerp citizens. Can the rejection of the project be explained by opening the black box of the planning process? A research of the Antwerp University College Artesis reveals that the decision process of the Oosterweel link can be described within the three streams model (problems–policy alternatives–politics), developed by W. Kingdon. In each stream actors intervene with their own logic (e.g. experts use traffic models, politicians make political deals, and administrations refer to administrative rules...). The process streams were bundled by a policy maker (the governor of the province), creating for a certain period a 'window of opportunity'. But the research confirms that a project idea has its expiry date. From Kingdon's three project survival criteria the weak point of the Oosterweel project is its small problem definition (traffic congestion on the main road system). Major projects should refer to the mobility issue and not only to a traffic problem. Infrastructure planning should not be limited to the physical object to be built, but be embedded in the urban and regional environment (avoiding e.g. white backgrounds in project evaluations and design). Planning processes that only focus on control (of financial and technical issues) and omit interaction (with stakeholders and the general public) have a great risk to fail. This has huge consequences for project management.


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  • Accession Number: 01608228
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9789536272501
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 2 2016 9:42AM