Wacky technology used to standardise road surfaces across Europe may or may not be the answer to many peoples’ prayers. Plus, a plan to save money on Dutch motorways has gone horribly wrong so far, a welcome new Autostrada opens in Italy this summer, and a hoard of Bulgarian MPs fall foul of their own parking rules.
EU ROADS TO BE STANDARDISED.
New project to make all Europe’s roads cheaper to build and easier to maintain.
The state of the roads is a common complaint across Europe. However, it remains to be seen how well a new plan to regulate the Continent’s road surfaces will be received.
Scientists at the EU’s Durabroads project will harness nanotechnology (the manipulation of matter on an atomic level) to develop a new generation of hi-tech road surfaces.
The aim is make roads in Europe cheaper, greener, more durable, safer and quieter – and more suited to climate change and ever heavier traffic loads.
Durabroads is a consortium of seven companies from around the continent, including the UK’s BSRIA, all co-ordinated by the University of Cantabria in Spain.
The first meeting was held last October and a new website came on stream this week.
The first phase of the project will analyse and optimise existing practice and develop the new materials. The second phase will test the new products in real life and develop them to ‘pre-standardisation’.
Rejigging the carriageways is presumably the first step in exerting more control of road building generally, as recommended by last year’s European Court of Auditors report on EU road building. It found that a major factor in the huge costs disparity between projects in different countries – it’s much cheaper to build roads in Germany than Poland – was down to over-specification.
Meanwhile, another EU funded project, co-ordinated by M&P consulting engineers, is looking into making roads quieter.
One of the consortium partners is Russian firm Rusnano. It has already developed a new type of asphalt to withstand Russian winters by injected recycled tyre rubber into the mix. A happy by-product was a ‘dramatic’ reduction in road noise.
Nether of the projects as yet has a time scale, or costs, attached. The next Durabroads meeting is in March.
NETHERLANDS. A report says turning off the lights on motorways is actually costing money. A saving of €600,000/year in electricity is more than wiped out by the €2m it costs to pay specialists to turn them back on when needed. The govt has already changed the switch off time from 21:00 to 23:00 but has no plans to reverse the policy overall. ITALY. The new BreBeMi motorway between Milan and Brescia will open on 1 July it was announced today, though so far no filling stations have been signed up for the 50 mile long road. BULGARIA. There was uproar in parliament yesterday when traffic wardens ticketed the vehicles of sitting MPS, illegally parked in the security zone outside the building. So many were called out the session had to be suspended. The parking restrictions were introduced to combat enduring anti-government protests.