Blue links, the rehabilitation of the Deûle-Escaut link
Thanks to the Blue Links project, boats are once again navigating the canals of the Deûle-Escaut link.
Since 2009, the Deûle-Escaut link has been open to heavy navigation once more. 28 km long, it is made up of the Marque Urbaine (7.6 km) and the Roubaix Canal (12.4 km), in France, and the Espierres Canal in Hainaut and Western Flanders in Belgium (8.4 km). Eleven communes are crossed: Marquette, Marcq-en-Barœul, Wasquehal, Croix, Tourcoing, Roubaix, Wattrelos, Leers, Estaimpuis, Pecq and Espierres-Helchin.
The aim of the Blue Links project, which started in 2005, was to bring this link back into navigational use. A goal which has thus been achieved. This project required four years of work and a budget of around €37M, half of which was funded by the EU and half by a Franco-Belgian partnership. In particular, this rehabilitation has allowed for new possibilities in terms of tourism activities within the cross-border territory.
The canal is also now a strategic site for European river transport. It is included in West-East and North-South itineraries. Its re-opening has added to the 20,000km of navigable networks in North-West Europe.