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Environment / Climate change

Mice ate the plans for Brussels' tunnels upgrade

Brussels has a congestion problem. Its street network is supported by tunnels which run through the city, but in recent years, some have crumbled and decayed to the point where they’re almost unusable. In response, the government put together outlines for a massive upgrade to the system, estimated to cost €1bn Euros if carried out. 

But earlier this week, according to Reuters, the head of the city’s infrastructure department was forced to relay some bad news to city officials regarding the carefully drawn out plans: “They may have been eaten by mice.” 

Brussels’ inner ring road, surrounding the historic city centre, is largely made up of tunnels. The area inside it is often known as the “pentagon” due to the fact it’s, well, a pentagon. Image: Google Maps.

This isn’t as surprising as it sounds, since, for reasons best known to themselves, officials had decided to store the plans inside the pillars of a motorway bridge.

Brussels, home to many EU institutions and the NATO headquarters, has very high numbers of private, hired and company cars. It’s a city where most people choose to drive; which is presumably why fixing the tunnels is such a priority. 


Officials have said this week’s setback will mean a delay, rather than the cancellation, of the project. Yet Kris Peeters, who has written several books on the subject of Brussels’ traffic problems, told the Guardian that roads aren’t necessarily the solution. In fact, most experts recommend a road tax or congestion charges.

So while the crumbling tunnels may be annoying, they could actually encourage citizens to go for public transport, walking or cycling rather than driving. Perhaps the mice know more than we do. 


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