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05/09/2011
The Umbria-Marche quadrilateral

Infrastructures

The two Perugia-Ancona and Foligno-Civitanova Marche dual carriageways are useful for the economies of both territories. After a halt of 10 years, road works began in 2007

Fabio Quinto

The work is definitely complex: 15 natural tunnels over 22 km long, in addition to 10 artificial tunnels. The maximum length of 3,455 metres will be reached from the Varano tunnel at Serravalle del Chienti.

 

After the Valico alternative route, our journey continues in an Italy blocked by the absence of infrastructures. Where roads are either lacking or are under construction, but with completion times that seem to be biblical. We're going to move a few kilometres to see what progress has been made on the Umbria-Marche quadrilateral, the two Perugia-Ancona and Foligno-Civitanova Marche dual carriageways. Two necessary works given that the two "stumps" in Le Marche have been awaiting completion since the '70s. They are needed for the economies of both territories: the textile and footwear industries in Le Marche, for example, as well as the construction and mechanical companies operating in Umbria. Car drivers and hauliers are only too well aware that to cross the Apennines they have to take the old 76 Val d'Esino and 77 Val di Chienti main roads. For example, it takes almost an hour and a half to travel the 44 km from Foligno to Muccia (where the 4 lanes begin, at last). The roads are not just winding and dangerous, they are also very busy and on the uphill stretches the large numbers of heavy vehicles with full loads double the travel time for goods and the cars trailing behind them.
That is the situation. But after a halt of 10 years, in 2007 work began again on the two dual carriageways. We'll start on the southern side of the quadrilateral, from Foligno to Civitanova Marche. At the end of 2009, the first stretch from Sfercia to Pontelatrave was opened to traffic. At the same time, work began on the most difficult stretch, the section that crosses the Apennines from Pontelatrave to Foligno, a 34 km, four lane dual carriageway, 60% of which will be in a tunnel. How far has the worked progressed? According to the chairman of Quadrilatero SpA, Gaetano Galia, "The work is definitely complex - and, sadly, this has been demonstrated also by several fatal accidents - because we are building 15 natural tunnels over 22 km long, in addition to 10 artificial tunnels. The maximum length of 3,455 metres will be reached from the Varano tunnel at Serravalle del Chienti. Currently, tunnelling is proceeding everywhere and various walls have been pulled down: at a height of 700 metres, the orography of the La Franca tunnel at Leggiana (Foligno) is very complex. Over a kilometre of tunnel has been opened for both in addition to a kilometre of the Palude tunnel, which crosses the Colfiorito plateau". The work is progressing quickly. And Quadrilatero SpA's declared aim of opening the stretch to traffic in 2013 does not seem to be far away. However, it is on the Perugia-Ancona that the troubles begin. There are three stretches to be completed: Albacina-Serra San Quirico, Cancelli-Fossato di Vico and Pianello-Valfabbrica. In addition to these is another stretch between Schifanoia and Valfabbrica, which is being managed by Anas and not by Quadrilatero SpA and which, as we will see, has a particular story. Work also began here at the start of 2009. But, after a few delays of a technical nature, in early 2010 these road works were involved in an alleged tender-fixing scandal.
However, now it appears that the work can continue. In short, the opening of the Perugia-Ancona to traffic has been delayed by a year and is now scheduled for 2014. But perhaps there is more good news to come: in June, Anas restarted work also on the Schifanoia-Valfabbrica stretch. A few kilometres where work began in far off 1998 and was interrupted in 2007 because of a legal action. To get the work started again, Anas announced a new call for tenders and put another 62 million euros on the table: at last, the work can recommence and will be completed - we hope - in a couple of years. The result will be an 8 km alternative route with one lane in each direction, a probable bottleneck compared to the rest of the Perugia-Ancona, which has 4 lanes, and an enfeeblement of the advantages of the Quadrilatero project. In effect, a widening project already exists and would cost 100 million euros. But, as the Anas communication says, "tenders for the work will be called at a time consistent with the actual availability of financial resources".  

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