Widening the A4 between Venice and Trieste from two to three lanes is certainly one of the most urgent projects, Autovie Venete has been facing for any years. Now, after many setbacks and new discussions with all parties involved, the company is optimistic that the three-lane motorway will not remain a dream but is about to see completion.
“On important routes one cannot rely on two lanes any more. This does not reflect the reality of traffic which we have to face here in Northern Italy,” points out President Dott. Emilio Terpin. As a lawyer, Dott. Terpin has been involved in many public projects in the past 50 years and looks back on a large number of successful projects he has carried out for a number of public authorities and institutions.
Autovie Venete has many years of experience in managing some of the most important motorways in Northern Italy. In fact, it is responsible for the A4 Venice-Trieste, the A23 Palmanova-Udine South, the A28 Portogruaro-Pordenone-Conegliano as well as for the A57 ring road of Mestre and the A34 Villese-Gorizia. “Certainly, the most important route recently was the motorway section Portogruaro-Pordenone-Conegliano which was inaugurated two years ago,” points out Dott. Terpin.
“All motorways, which we have built, have been perfected and expanded over the years to meet modern road standards. However, it is really a nuisance, time and again, that public building projects always have a long way to go in terms of bureaucracy.” The management company was first founded in 1928, and in 1950 it became publicly owned.
By the end of the 1950s Autovie Venete was assigned the development and construction of the motorway routes from Venice to Trieste, the A4, as well as the motorway section from Palmanova to Udine, having a total length of 147 km. Above all, it has always been the company’s ambition to set new benchmarks in efficient and convincing motorway management and to meet the requirements of changing traffic volumes.
“Up to the 1980s, before the civil war in Yugoslavia, the traffic volume on Venetian motorways to and from Yugoslavia had increased strongly. Public authorities realized that a dual carriageway was not adequate any more to cope with the growing number of vehicles on that section,” points out Dott. Terpin. “However, as a consequence of the Balkan war, traffic decreased in those years before it was on the upsurge again after the war ended. The effect on the traffic volume was immense.”
At the end of the 1990s, Autovie Venete promoted the extension of the existing motorway and initiated analysis, research and planning. “It really was obvious that only a threelane motorway would be able to cope with high traffic in the summer season. We often had long delays and queues of up to 16 to 20 km,” says Dott. Terpin.
In 2012 alone, some 45 million vehicles used the motorways managed by Autovie Venete – and this even in a year that was still dominated by the economic crisis. In 2007, the normal juridical procedure for the motorway expansion work started but it was soon overshadowed by a serious accident in 2008.
“A truck driver lost control over his vehicle, the truck broke through the guard rail and only came to a halt on the opposite carriageway. As a consequence, seven people died and many persons were seriously injured,” states Dott. Terpin. “The incident resulted in long delays in the continuation of the building project. Even, today, we have not come to the final building stage yet.”
In the meantime, Autovie Venete has completed the Villesse-Gorizia link and it is currently involved in the first building traject in Venetia which incorporates the toll station in Meolo. Today, one clear focus is on the expansion of existing motorways, but, likewise, Autovie Venete is responsible for the entire infrastructure of its motorways.
“We are not only involved in construction projects for our motorways but we look after the safety on our roads and provide appropriate services and facilities,” says Dott. Terpin. “Most people just think roads and toll stations but really there is much more to managing a motorway.” Control of all sections, traffic monitoring, support in emergencies, operation of variable message panels and 24/7 emergency units – Autovie Venete is able to offer a full range of services that support smooth, uninterrupted traffic flows.
“We are proud that we are among the best operators in this respect,” adds Dott. Terpin. “Administration and maintenance of the motorway is one of our major tasks. New asphalt pavements, replacement of broken guard rails and guard barriers, hedge trimming as well as snow removal are only some of our work activities to keep motorway traffic running.”
Autovie Venete has at its disposal all required technology to monitor flowing traffic, to detect hazardous goods transports and to control speed limits. “It is a question of safety that requires in-depth scrutiny at any time,” points out Dott. Terpin.
Currently, Autovie Venete is focusing on new tenders that have been submitted for the renovation of motorway rest places. The rest stations play a crucial role on the motorway. People who are on the road all day need time to rest and relax. In order to safeguard the high quality standards imposed by EUR regulations, Autovie Venete has called for tenders at a European level.
“We have many things on our minds in relation with our motorway operations. But I really would like to stress the importance of the A4 project that includes the expansion of the two lanes to three lanes. It is hard to understand that the realization of this project has been delayed for so long. We are now optimistic that public authorities understand the impact of this important motorway section for European traffic,” states Dott. Terpin.
The A4 motorway plays a strategic role in the connection between East and West. It is part of the lifeline from Barcelona to Kiev that passes through Venetia. “We have to do everything we can to ease commercial exchange and empower trade relations. Therefore, a motorway that meets modern standards is a must. We have worked hard on enabling such a motorway and we will continue to do so”, stresses Dott. Terpin. No doubt, the ambitious A4 project will see its completion within the next years.