Talking point: The European road network
Three industry experts on the future of Europe's road infrastructure.
“Mobility knows no borders: a unified European approach is the best way to respond to the challenges."
German Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Transport and TourismThere are many problems on European roads: in particular, traffic jams, decrepit bridges and streets in disrepair. We must therefore invest, on the one hand, in repair and maintenance and, on the other, in new infrastructure. For me, mobility is a holistic concept, composed of the various modes of transportation.
The closure of infrastructure gaps between Member States and between different modes of transportation is a key objective of European transportation policies. The Connecting Europe Facility provides a powerful tool for investment in transportation infrastructure and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) offers opportunities to mobilise additional private investment.
Innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, such as innovative road surfaces and integrated technologies for cooperative vehicle systems or electric vehicle charging, are particularly important for investment in road transportation. At the same time, sustainable, collective means of transportation must be supported. Moving freight traffic to the railways is one way to relieve congestion on our roads and help control the growth in traffic.
In general, I believe that mobility knows no borders: a unified European approach is the best way to respond to the challenges our transportation policies and businesses face.
“We need smarter tendering systems”
Dr. Carsten Karcher
Director European Asphalt Pavement AssociationThere is a massive lack of funding for road maintenance and construction in all European countries. The condition of the road network is getting worse, with decreased safety and comfort as well as higher fuel and maintenance costs for vehicles. A lot of activity is required to keep road conditions at an acceptable service level, although in Eastern Europe the closing of missing links in the road network remains a primary focus.
Further development of the road infrastructure with innovative methods is prevented by traditional tendering systems that favour the lowest price. Initiatives such as the Green Public Procurement System, which takes into account recycling, noise and CO2 emissions, and the latest procurement directive of the European Commission, which includes life cycle costs, could be important tools to change this.
We need smarter tendering systems that give the road industry the opportunity to display its innovative potential to provide more durable and more environment-friendly asphalt solutions. Allowing the industry to simply carry out the normal maintenance works in the necessary maintenance cycles would lead to much better road surface conditions and would clearly improve the situation for road safety, reducing emissions, user comfort and employment.
New asphalt road surfaces are smooth and even, resulting in reduced noise, rolling resistance, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Tailor-made solutions such as low rolling resistance surfaces and low noise-emitting asphalt pavement systems already exist and if implemented can provide an even greater benefit.”
“Wider use of temperature reducing technologies”
Jim ChristieBusiness Area Director Bitumen UK, NynasAll across Europe, the consequences of the recent recession are manifested in the state of the road infrastructure. Potholes, ruts and cracks are prevalent with more temporary types of repair being used due to lack of funds instead of traditional inlays. The market has seen claims being made for the benefits of using waste materials such as pelletised plastic or crushed glass. These have no proven benefit to either the end performance or to long term durability. They may well also cause issues with future recycling.
I feel the construction industry and bitumen manufacturers are completely aware of the issues with CO2 and hence we see a wider use of innovative temperature-reducing technologies such as warm mix asphalts. Ultimately any modern society thrives with good infrastructure links, it is time to really push for the necessary funding to repair and preserve our road network properly, using the correct materials to ensure optimum results and best overall value for money.”