The Albert Canal runs from Liège to Antwerp, parallel to the European route E313. It is 129.5 km long and consists of six staircase locks, each one containing three locks.
The canal was built to reduce traffic in the smaller canals between the two cities. It also had to compete with the newly built Juliana Canal that threatened to pull the industry from Liege to Rotterdam.
The construction of the Albert Canal was already planned in the twenties. The canal was dug between May 31, 1930 and July 30, 1939. That it’s a royal canal is obvious! King Albert I dug the first spade, King Leopold III and Queen Elizabeth opened the canal. The statue of King Albert I, was also unveiled by them.
Yet it took until 1946 for the canal to be put into use. The Second World War was the cause, many locks and bridges were destroyed by bombardments during these years.
The canal has been modernized twice since the opening. The last major works date from the first years of the 21st century. The modernization was necessary to allow passage for large amounts of cargo. Up to 40 million tonnes in record year 1969.
Still a major problem remains unsolved. A lack of expandability between Wijnegem and the Port of Antwerp limited traffic to lighter traffic loads.
Nevertheless, even this problem will be addressed. After the unsuccessful duwvaartkanaal, this time the canal will be widened and the existing bridges raised. These works should be completed by 2016.