SALERNO-REGGIO CALABRIA, THE FINAL INSULT
Will the project be completed by December as promised by the Government?! Yes, however, 69 km are still missing, and for these a simple "maintenance plan" is scheduled
12 years were needed for the original project, from 1962 to 1974. But already in 1972, a landslide on Mount Sirino, near Lagonegro (Potenza), produced a 40 year “detour”. And now, after 18 years of road works to re-build 443 km of the motorway, the Salerno – Reggio Calabria will be completed by the end of the year, but not all of it, let us see why.
First of all, according to a message on ANAS’ website, up until last spring 88 km were still missing to complete the Salerno-Reggio Calabria, and of these, only 20 km were under construction (the stretch between Laino Borgo and Campotenese, in the province of Cosenza). The remaining stretches were: Rotigliano-Altilia (Cosenza), 16 km and 10 km around Reggio Calabria. On the other hand, other portions of the motorway such as Morano Calabro-Sibari (21 km), Cosenza-Rogliano (11 km) and Pizzo Calabro-Sant’Onofrio (11 km) were still waiting for State funding. Precisely, 2,3 billion Euro to be added to the 8 billion already spent since 1998. Actually, according to the Infrastructure Annex issued in 2015, total costs had already exceeded the initial budget by 3,1 billion Euro.
In 2014, the Sblocca Italia Decree had laboriously scraped together 795 million Euro for the Rogliano-Altilia stretch. But what about the 3.1 billion? Considering the current situation of the State coffers, European restrictions and a furious public opinion for this bottomless pit, these will be quite hard to find. Thus, the new Minister of Infrastructure Graziano Delrio and the new president of ANAS Gianni Armani, were told to finish the section where work is currently in progress within the year - as already planned - and place all the missing works, whether already financed or still to be financed, under one umbrella called "maintenance plan".
The cost, according to Anas, is well over 1 billion euro. However, the Salerno-Reggio Calabria, after an 18-year-long ordeal, will end up being unfinished. Among the reasons that prompted, back in the 90s, the Government to undertake this gigantic construction project we find: first an emergency lane and a third lane between Salerno and Sicignano; furthermore, an emergency lane also on the remaining stretch of the motorway and, above all, a reduction of the dangerous slopes, thus transforming what was a dangerous, winding mountain motorway (an infamous choice dating back to the 50s and 60s) based mainly on viaducts, in a straighter road thanks to new tunnels, protecting it from the risks of being set in one of the most unstable territories in Italy.
This is what the "Maintenance plan" includes. According to Anas, on the Morano Calabro-Sibari, Cosenza sud-Altilia and Pizzo Calabro - Sant'Onofrio stretches (total 59 km) works include, in a first phase, a deep road rehabilitation and new tarmac; new road markings; new and improved road signs, including tourist signs. Furthermore, improved safety barriers and guardrails and a new and integrated drainage system; not to mention new coating concretes and various other improvements in some tunnels". Additionally, the lighting systems in some tunnels must be upgraded as well as in some of the junctions. In a second phase, the maintenance plan provides for the upgrading of security barriers, rehabilitation of major road stretches along the way, new coating concretes and consolidation of the slopes between Cosenza and Altilia, and finally, on the 10 km around Reggio Calabria, a general improvement of the safety features.
But how much is it going to be!
In short, just a few new lanes and a general upgrade of the old motorway. The only exception is the construction of a new lane called "climbing lane" for heavy duty transport vehicles on the toughest mountain stretch between Rogliano and Altilia, in the province of Cosenza. Traffic heading north would travel on the existing motorway, divided into two lanes, one for heavy and one for light vehicles. While the newly built sections of the road would be reserved only for vehicles – both heavy and light - headed south.
In general, Anas (National Autonomous Road Corporation) promises that maintenance activities have been programmed in such a way that the traditional summer exodus will not be affected and traffic jams will be limited. So far, still according to Anas, 19 tenders have already been launched worth 95 million euro; two more will soon be published for a value of 30 million euro. These funds make up about 10% of the whole maintenance plan. Who knows how much longer we will see detours and road works on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria, hopefully at the end of this long story, we might be able to see what looks like a completed motorway.