A new railway bridge in the Flemish region of Belgium will increase the clearance height of the Albert Canal to 9.1m.

Spectators gather to watch the new Herentals rail bridge being floated into place over the Albert Canal in Belgium.

The work is part of a plan to stimulate water transport, and De Vlaamse Waterweg is raising all the bridges on the Albert Canal to a 9.1m clearance height. This will allow passage between Antwerp and Liege to vessels carrying containers stacked four high.

The 3,200 tonne steel arch bridge was assembled on site and then jacked up on the Herentals bank. Engineers then drove the bridge on to a pontoon and floated it across the canal into position next to the old bridge. The old bridge will become a bicycle bridge.

The project also requires a 2m height adjustment of the railway and its infrastructure on either side of the bridge. This will be achieved over 1km, and a level crossing nearby will be replaced by a tunnel.

The contractor is a consortium of TM Artes Roegiers, Aelterman and Taveirne and the project cost US$58 million. The funding came from Vlaamse Waterweg, Infrabel, the province of Antwerp and the city of Herentals.