Roads in Heist-op-den-Berg

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The IC road network of the Republic. In blue: the missing link to close the eastern bypass.

Heist-op-den-Berg inherited a very dense network of roads from its period as a Belgian municipality. Roads in the Republic are separated into two groups. The first group consists of all important links between villages and surrounding Belgian cities. These are called intercommunal roads (Dutch: intercommunale wegen) abbreviated as IC. All other roads are less important and are merely intended for local traffic and making homes accesible.

The IC-road system

IC roads are indicated by little plates next to the road. These plates can be either red or orange colored, with a white lettering. Red plates are IC roads with just one numeral. These are the primary roads of the Republic and pass through multiple municipalities before ending at another IC road or a state border. They were arranged according to their length and their importance, IC 1 being the longest possible abd most important road and IC 7 being the shortest.

The IC-network had some modifications in the passing years, therefore the property of the road number suggesting its length and importance no longer is applicable in some cases.


Primary IC roads

Road From To Length (km) Municipalities Traffic Importance
1
Border crossing Wiekevorst Border crossing Grootlo 16.0 WI, HE, SK 2 2
2
Border crossing Heikant Border crossing Pijpelheide 8.8 IT, HE, BO 3 3
3
Border crossing Heikant Intersection IC 11 8.5 HE, HA, IT 2 2
4
Intersection IC 1 Intersection IC 2 9.4 HE, SK, BO 2 1
5
Intersection IC 41 Border crossing Wimpel 6.4 IT, WI 2 2
6
Intersection IC 3 Border crossing Booischot 6.2 HE, BO 2 3
7
Intersection IC 5 Border crossing Hulshout 3.2 HE, IT 1 2
8
Border crossing Beerzel Border crossing Grasheide 3.1 HE, SK 2 3
TOTAL 61.6
Promotion of the Republic at the IC 1/IC 2 roundabout during the Tour de France 2015

The IC 1 runs from the northeastern state border at Wiekevorst (ward Molenveld) to the southern state border at Grootlo. Its total length is 15,98 km making it the longest primary road of the Republic. Three municipalities are crossed: Wiekevorst, City of Heist-op-den-Berg and Schriek. Standard driving speed is 70 km/h except in the town centres of Wiekevorst, Heist-op-den-Berg, Heist-Goor and Grootlo where maximal driving speed is 50 km/h and sometimes 30 km/h.

The IC 2 is a perfectly straight road running from the border crossing at Heikant to the border crossing of Pijpelheide, almost nine kilometers further southeast. Being for both Heist-op-den-Berg and Belgium the most important road crossing the Hestian territory, it connects the city of Lier with the city of Aarschot. The amount of transit traffic is very high, that’s why the government decided to set a toll for all vehicles using this road.

Tollbooths were not an option because of unnecessary traffic jams. Instead, twenty cameras automatically registering license plates were placed at both border crossings and at intersections with other IC roads. Total estimated installing costs were about €482.000. Vehicles entering or leaving the IC 3 via other roads are registered just once and therefore won't be invoiced. Propositions are done to expand the camera network to every entrance/exit road to avoid this loss of revenue and cut-through traffic.

The registered license plates are checked in a database and matched to the owner to whom the invoice is sent. From September 2013 onwards, cars and motor cycles pay a sum of €0,10/km; vans, cars with trailers and campers €0,20/km and lorries €0,40/km. Hestians and foreign people frequently passing the IC 2 can choose to receive a monthly invoice. Invoices not paid after one month will receive an additional administrative fee of €50 op top of the original sum.

The IC 3 connects the town centre of Itegem with the IC 2 and the city centre of Heist-op-den-Berg. This road forms the western part of the bypass around the city of Heist. The total length is 8.5 km. Historically, the IC 3 is the first paved road ever on the Republic's territory. 3.5 kilometers of road was paved with cobblestones in 1847 to create a better link between Heist and the former port of Itegem (at the Grote Nete river). Other roads, e.g. IC 1, 6 and 7 were paved 25 to 50 years later.

Secondary IC roads

Secondary IC roads, which are those with two numerals don’t cross municipal borders. Consequently, these roads are less important for transit traffic, but equally important for internal traffic compared to primary IC roads. The first number corresponds to the municipal code. The second cipher again was assigned from longest to shortest. The current total length of the IC road network is 86.2 km. Secondary IC roads are indicated with orange plates bearing a white lettering.

# Road From To Length (km) Municipality Traffic Importance
11
Border crossing Speelbergen Intersection IC 6 4.5 HE 3 3
21
Intersection IC 2 Intersection IC 4 3.1 HE 2 1
31
Intersection IC 3 Intersection IC 1 1.9 HA 2 2
41
Intersection IC 3 Border crossing Dekbunders 3.9 IT 2 1
42
Intersection IC 44 Intersection IC 43 2.2 IT 1 1
43
Border crossing Gestel Border crossing Kruiskensberg 1.7 IT 2 2
44
Border crossing Elzenhoek (closed) Intersection IC 3 1.6 IT 1 1
51
Intersection IC 1 Border crossing Heultje 1.7 WI 2 1
61
Intersection IC 6 Intersection IC 2 2.3 BO 3 2
62
Border crossing Pallieter Intersection IC 6 1.1 BO 2 1
71
Border crossing Grasheide Intersection IC 1 3.7 SK 1 1
TOTAL 27.7

Proposed eastern bypass

The proposed future structure around the City of Heist-op-den-Berg.

A lot of traffic coming from the City of Herentals via IC 1 and Itegem via IC 7 has to pass through the centre of Heist-op-den-Berg to continue its journey to Lier, Malines or Aarschot. This causes a lot of nuisance and health risks for the people in the city centre. Traffic taking the western part of the city is unavoidable, the eastern though can be disburdened.

The government is planning to construct a road of about 1.2 km between the current junction of IC 6/IC 11 and IC 1/IC 31. This would avoid the bottleneck and steep slope of De Boekten. The local S-bend is particularly difficult for heavy lorries to overcome. Cyclists are obligated to use the same road because there is no space to install a separate bike path, creating a dangerous situation.

The connection will affect other roads in the Republic too. IC 31, the proposed road and the majority of IC 11 will be renamed to IC R. The old IC 11, reduced to a length of barely 0.8 km will be renamed as IC 12. Parts of IC 6 within the bypass will be abolished and a new junction IC R/IC 6 will be created, shortening the road with about 1.3 km.

The IC 1 and IC R will take the same road for about 1.8 km. IC 1 will be 0.8 km shorter and faster than the current route. The old IC 1 road within the proposed bypass will be renamed to IC 11.


Licence plates

A licence plate on a car belonging to someone from Booischot

Driving on any road in Heist-op-den-Berg requires a valid (foreign) licence plate. Number plates in Heist-op-den-Berg are driver specific. If you trade in your old car for a new one, you keep your old number plate.

The rear licence plate is supplied by the Secretary of TTS, while the front plate is owner supplied. This has its influence on the look of the front plate, which can be identical to the rear one or diverge strongly, e.g.: being a sticker and not an actual plate. The rear plate is usually mounted on a base plate which can have an advertisement for the car dealer.

The number plate has a white background with dark green (RAL 6002) numbers and letters and a dark green frame. Standard plates have the same measurements as the European standard format. The last two letters on the plate indicate the domicile of the owner, together with the coat of arms of the municipality:

  • HE: city of Heist-op-den-Berg
  • HA: Hallaar
  • IT: Itegem
  • SK: Schriek
  • GE: Gestel
  • WI: Wiekevorst
  • BO: Booischot

Sometimes the last part of the licence plate contains only one letter, which has a special meaning:

  • L: plates for agricultural vehicles using red petrol, a low-taxed fuel
  • O: oldtimer plates for vehicles older than 25 years. These vehicles have some restrictions in terms of traveled distance per year and can ‘t be used for driving to work, school, etc.
  • A: trailers
  • M: motorcycles
  • S: scooters and vehicles like microcars
  • T: taxi’s
  • D: diplomats
  • H: dealer plate
  • P: test drive plate

For the remaining letters and ciphers, all letters of the alphabet are used. Giving a total of 67,600 possible combinations. This is an average of 1.6 plates per inhabitant, or more importantly an average of 2.5 plates per vehicle. In 2011, Heist-op-den-Berg had an average of 628 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants, ranking it the 13th most car loving country in the world, after Canada and before Greece.