Traffic coming to Schuman from avenue Auderghem and rue Froissart will still be able to go round Rond-Point Schuman. But traffic coming into town from the outer ring-road and avenue de Cortenbergh will be diverted away from Rond-Point Schuman, down rue Stevin and boulevard Charlemagne. The section of avenue de Cortenbergh between the Rond-Point Schuman and rue Stevin will be open only to local traffic but in both directions.
The tunnel closures are prompted by construction work on a new platform at Schuman station, where a suburban RER line is being added to the existing metro and railway (SNCB) lines.
The pedestrian route closure is prompted by the construction of a building for the European Council, next to Justus Lipsius.
The closures will make more daunting the challenge for pedestrians wanting to cross rue de la Loi at the Rond-Point Schuman end, between the headquarters of the European Commission, the Berlaymont, and the headquarters of the Council. “It's kind of a metaphor for the poor relations between the institutions,” observed one civil servant.
The managers of the Résidence Palace, which is next to the Lex building, this week (5 June) advised pedestrians to go underground and walk along the Schuman metro platform if they need to get from the Rond-Point Schuman to the Résidence Palace, but in theory to do so a pedestrian would have to have a valid ticket for travel on the metro.
It will still be possible to cross rue de la Loi underground, via the railway platforms of the SNCB. However, the transport authorities are not anxious to encourage people to use this route and have declined to put up signs guiding people through the station, despite requests from the Résidence Palace building managers.
The mobility office of the regional government of the Brussels capital, which has been engaged in a campaign to raise public awareness about the road-tunnel closures, is unhappy about the additional pedestrian closures.
The regional government convened a meeting yesterday (6 June) with the project managers of the European Council building to request better routes for pedestrians and cyclists, but no solutions were forthcoming.
The European Commission has responded to the tunnel closures by offering to reimburse its staff for half the cost of monthly season tickets on public transport if they choose to leave their cars at home over the summer. Staff are ordinarily entitled to 50% off annual passes if they surrender their claim to a car parking space, but not to short-term passes.
For cyclists, the Commission will also make its service bicycles temporarily available to ride home after work and to return the next morning. Ordinarily, bicycles borrowed must be returned the same day.
However, the tunnel closures are scheduled to last three months, and it is not clear whether the public transport can provide sufficient extra capacity. Train frequencies are normally drastically reduced over the summer months. The Commission says it has obtained an assurance from the STIB, the public-transport manager of Brussels, that its summer schedule has been modified to take account of the situation. But given that many metro and train staff take their holidays in the summer, there are limited possibilities to run more trains.