Voies Navigables de France (VNF), the public body that manages and develops the country's 6700 km-long waterway network, has released the tender to construct the Seine Nord Europe (SNE) Canal.
The high capacity 106 km-long SNE Canal will connect the Seine and Scheldt rivers, allowing large vessels to transport goods between the Paris area and the ports of Dunkirk, Antwerp and Rotterdam.
It will also connect the French water transport network with those of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
The SNE Canal has a € 2,6 billion budget funded by the European Union, the French government, local governments and public-private partnerships. It is intended to expand trade in "an environmentally efficient" manner, removing thousands of goods vehicles from the region's road network.
Construction will include seven single chamber locks with water saving basins, two water storage reservoirs, three aqueducts, four multi-modal platforms, seven loading/unloading quays, five boat harbours and 360 ha of industrial ports (See Linked Articles for more details).
VNF's tender, which has a closing date of 15 June, calls for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, regeneration and the financing of the canal, in the context of a public private partnership.
Construction is expected to start in 2011, with the canal opening in 2015. The project will create about 10000 direct jobs during the construction phase, with 4500 on the construction site in 2011.
Seine-Nord Europe is a flagship project of French president Nicolas Sarkozy's Grenelle de l'Environnement (Environmental Roundtable) initiative.
The SNE Canal will support the sustainable economic development of the territories through which it passes and will contribute to revitalizing French and European economic growth.
To visit the project website click here.