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 Opened to traffic, the new Ring road outside Milan between Melegnano and Agrate Brianza is shorter, faster and not as busy as the "old" A51, although tolls are higher.  And further news are expected on the Rho-Monza route

Massimo Lanari

After the experience of the Brebemi, there was a serious risk of a new fiasco. This time the TEEM (Tangenziale Est Esterna Milano) was under the spotlight, a new 32 km long bypass which opened to traffic on May 16. But this time it all seems to works. It is expensive, but it works, as the amount of cars and trucks travelling every day on the three-lane ring road between Melegnano and Agrate Brianza testify.

A toll road completed in record time, less than 3 years since the June 11, 2012 starting date (except for the Arco TEEM between Liscate and Pozzuolo Martesana, which closely followed the opening schedule of the Brebemi ). The purpose of this motorway is to bypass the congested east Milan ring road, connecting the A1 to the A4 as well as the whole area north of Milan and around Bergamo. One of Italy’s busiest and most industrialized areas.


The comparison

To compare times and costs, we drove through the Lodi-Cavenago section, first on the "old" Tangenziale Est and then on the new TEEM. On the new TEEM we drove for 48.3 km, and a car takes on average 27 minutes, which become 36 for trucks. The costs range between € 7.30 for cars and € 18,20 for a 5-axle articulated truck. Not exactly cheap, considering the limited mileage. Moreover, as soon as we drove over the "old" Ring road, we realized that the primary objective of the TEEM project, the decongestion of the city highway, is still far from being reached.

Mid-morning traffic delays are the rule, and if you add 90 km/h speed limits, travelling time gets longer, much longer! Travelling 51.1 kilometers takes on average 35 minutes for cars, 42 for trucks. Basically that means 6-7 minutes longer, although the toll gates tell a very different story: a car pays 4.30 euro, a 5 axle articulated truck 10,60 euro. Moreover, the slower traffic produces a significant increase in consumption (and pollution!).


Traffic flow: thumbs up!                        

In short, the TEEM is not even closely comparable to the Brebemi. According to preliminary data provided by the concessionaire, around 40 thousand vehicles on average travel each day on the TEEM, including at least 10 thousand trucks, compared with a forecast (rather cautious after the Brebemi precedent) of 25 thousand vehicles per day. And even the listless Brebemi, still lacking an adequate access road to both the Milan and Brescia area, is positively affected by this new situation: the concessionaire recorded a 35% traffic increase, although commercial traffic continues to be absent. Only 28% of all commercial vehicles choose the Brebemi. Far too little. Certainly, the doubts and fears caused by the Brebemi precedent, produced at least one noticeable casualty; the taxpayer’s pocket. The TEEM, with a total cost of two billion euro, was to be financed entirely with private funds and no Government resources. But in the end the State still had to put in 330 million euro to complete the project



Brebemi: licences, still a long way to go

The real challenge now is the completion of the Brebemi missing access roads. Towards Brescia, after years of waiting, a new concessionaire was finally identified, who will manage the stretch of the A21 between Brescia and Piacenza, thus substituting the former concessionaire Centropadane,  as well as completing the missing portion of the Corda Molle highway between Azzano Mella and Ospitaletto, the Brebemi junction point on the Brescia side. The new Centropadane will be managed by the Gavio group and, after a stop of three years, the construction sites are expected to resume after the final go ahead by CIPE (Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning), expected late this summer. Meanwhile, on the Milan side, the creation of the special road system around Segrate is slowly coming to an end, which constitutes in fact the completion of the new Cassanese highway, one of the two Brebemi  exits onto the bypass east of Milan.

The works on the first section, totally flooded after an aquifer was struck by the builders (the locals ironically refer to it as the Segrate River), should finally resume after four years. A new contractor has been found, but the works should be completed not before 2016, if all goes according to plans.

As for the second section of the Segrate road system, connected to the proposed construction of a giant shopping center by the Australian company Westfield, all works were halted by the National Anti-corruption Authority led by Raffaele Cantone, who reported a risk of illegality stemming from work being commissioned to a private individual without a proper government tender. On the other hand, the project to remove the traffic lights responsible for traffic congestions on the Rivoltana road between Linate and the Idroscalo remains a mystery. In short, we still have a long way to go.


Completing the circle around the city                

Good news from the Expo area. Prior to the start of the international event, the missing junction linking the Tangenziale Ovest Milano and the Rho-Monza section of the highway was opened in record time, near Baranzate, while the new motorway link road between the Tangenziale Nord Milano and the Rho-Monza highway, by Paderno Dugnano, is now also open, making it possible now to skip the busy Milano-Meda section. Furthermore, an initial section of 1,7 km of the fifth lane on the Autostrada dei Laghi is now accessible. All infrastructures around the Milan area have taken off, evidently thanks to the Expo. Of course, work on the remaining stretch of the Rho-Monza is still in progress, but at least it is not interfering with the traffic, that is if you don’t mind the insane 60 km / h speed limit. But, other than that, we can safely say that the circle of roads around the city has been closed.

In case of traffic jams on the A4 between Sesto San Giovanni and viale Certosa, there is an escape route. When traffic conditions are normal, the Sesto San Giovanni-Tangenziale Nord-Baranzate-Fiera-viale Certosa route is 6,6 km longer, and takes 9 minutes more to reach the destination, at a cost of 6,80 Euro, for trucks, against the 4,40 on the A4, while motorists will pay 2,80 Euro against the 1,80 on the A4. But this, compared to the usual traffic jams on the Pero-Sesto San Giovanni section, is really just a small price to pay.

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