Nieuwe Sluis (New Lock) – Terneuzen

The project

The old Middle Lock of the Terneuzen Lock Complex needed to be replaced. The increased marine navigation, both in terms of number and size, necessitated the need for a larger lock. The Nieuwe Sluis (New Lock) in Terneuzen will serve as the gateway to the Port of Ghent and form a crucial navigational route from the North Sea and the Western Scheldt estuary (Westerschelde). In addition to accommodating (larger) vessels, the renovated lock complex also functions as a flood defence, protecting the hinterland from the sea. When the water level in the canal is higher than in the outer harbour, the levelling valves are raised, and water flows through grates into the outer harbour.

The challenge

The bridges and lock gates need to be future-proof, capable of lasting for decades and able to withstand the weather conditions associated with climate change. Iv was responsible for the design of the four lock gates and two bascule bridges, including the operating mechanisms. The lock gates are comparable in size to those of the Panama Canal. The large wave impact loads from the Western Scheldt had to be taken into account in Terneuzen. The gates are designed to be robust enough to withstand wave impact without damage or fatigue. A centrally positioned rolling guide ensures the gate can open and close under high loads.


The mechanism is extraordinary. In the event of a storm surge, or ‘perfect storm’, the bridge can be opened and locked in position. This is because it is not feasible to design a bridge to withstand extreme wave loads in the closed position. A ‘perfect storm’ is accompanied by extremely high wind loads. During the design process, extensive calculations and analyses are incorporated into a Building Integrated Model (BIM).

The impact

The Nieuwe Sluis in Terneuzen is fit for the future. Larger vessels can now pass through to the port of Ghent, and the design has accounted for higher water levels due to sea-level rise. As a result, the hinterland is better protected from flooding. In addition, the bascule bridges and lock gates are designed to withstand more severe weather conditions due to climate change.

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Wouter van der Wiel