Project Born, Maasbracht & Heel, The Netherlands

Limburg locks

Full steam ahead for large river vessels

In Limburg, the "Maas Route" is now open to river vessels of up to 190 m, following the renovation and expansion of three locks by the BESIX-Mourik (CBM) consortium. A special concern: safeguarding natural resources.

Extension to 3 locks

Born, Maasbracht, Heel: these three Limburg villages are all located on the ‘Maas Route’, an important waterway for boat traffic in the European Union. Their three locks are some of the most impressive in the Netherlands, with rises of 12 m each. To enlarge the waterway and permit internal navigation with larger vessels, these locks have been modernized and enlarged.

Multiple challenges

BESIX’s primary assignment was the imposing civil engineering works, but also included stabilizing the existing walls, extending the lock chambers to take vessels up to 190 m long, and adapting the booms and guidance device. This Design & Build project included just about every technical difficulty imaginable: geology, specific groundwater situation, keeping the waterway open to traffic... Also, working in confined spaces 18 m down requires specific safety measures.

The experience of the first lock helped us optimize the planning and implementation of the next two.

Natural resources

To preserve water resources, BESIX built a connecting channel between the lock heads, to allow water to flow from one to the other. This system saves valuable resources, and avoids resorting to pumping in dry seasons. And to provide a new source of renewable energy, BESIX converted the old Born pumping station into a turbine installation for recovering hydraulic energy during high water periods.

Project details

Project name

Limburg locks


Locks, Shore Protection

Contract type

Design, Build & Maintenance


Born, Maasbracht & Heel, The Netherlands


BESIX Nederland


Rijkswaterstaat Maaswerken

Building Period

2008 - 2014

Total value

€ 199 million

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