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New Brisavoine Oct 14, 2013 4:53 PM

Road/motorway/freeway projects in Europe
The motorway/freeway replacing the section of the old N88 road between La Croix de Mille and Taunus, in south-western France, was opened to traffic yesterday. This is another milestone in the long march towards the completion of the motorway/freeway that will someday link Toulouse and Lyon, the 2nd and 4th largest cities of France, through the difficult terrain of the Massif Central.

The French government is unfortunately dithering on whether or not to build the most difficult part of the route, which lies beyond the section opened yesterday. Something as big as the Millau Viaduct would need to be built to cross the huge river canyons in that region, which means billions of €€€.

En attendant the stunning central sections of that motorway that will someday hopefully be built, here are pictures of the section opened yesterday, by Gilles Auriol from Forum Sara.









mousquet Oct 14, 2013 6:03 PM

Yeah, this is fine. Always delighted whenever crossing the countryside carefully maintained by farmers by the way. This freeway should feature some lovely landscapes... Do you think "les Verts" could ever get this done this well? :uhh: :P Hm, them lazy jokes.

Don't forget Toulouse's supposed to get a major high-speed rail line to closer Bordeaux as well. I read the project was questioned lately, but the influent mayor of Bordeaux should defend it till we've got it for good.

URBAN-CONSTANTA Nov 3, 2013 2:32 PM

A4 ring highway of Constanta City : in the photo the junction between A4 and National Road 3 and between A4 and A2, both A2 and A4 are TEM


New Brisavoine Dec 29, 2013 12:38 PM

The official launch of construction for the Nouvelle Route du Littoral freeway/motorway, in Réunion, took place on Friday last week. After many years of discussions and heated public debates, this is at last the start of the most spectacular motorway project in the European Union!

Due to a massive lava field which ends in cliffs above the ocean, the capital of Réunion, St Denis, is isolated from the international seaport of Réunion and the touristy and populated southern part of the island, located beyond the lava field. It has always been hard to link St Denis to the seaport and the southern part of the island through that lava field.

Currently, there exists a motorway that was built in the 1970s at the bottom of the cliffs, but it is extremely dangerous, with tons of volcanic rocks regularly crashing on the road, sometimes killing motorists, and blocking traffic for weeks between St Denis and the rest of the island.

This is the current motorway:

And this is what happens when the cliff collapses on the current motorway:

Oftentimes, due to risk of rocks falling on the motorway, they have to redirect northbound traffic on the southbound lanes (the two lanes on the ocean side), so the motorway becomes a simple two-lane road, with all the traffic jams that you can imagine.

Some solutions have been sought to solve this problem. Some have argued in favor of a tunnel bored under the lava field, but the distance to cross is very long for a tunnel, and the road tunnel would in any case be dangerous due to the heavy traffic on that motorway (55,000 vehicles per day in 2010, but due to rise to 80,000 vehicles per day in 2040 because of Réunion's brisk demographic and economic growth).

Eventually, after years of public consultations and political arguments, it was decided to choose the offshore viaduct solution, which will be an engineering marvel, but will cost a lot of money. It must be said that construction of the offshore viaduct has become a reality essentially thanks to the efforts of the right-wing president of Réunion's regional council, Didier Robert, who came to power in 2010 and has tenaciously pushed for this very costly engineering solution (the former Communist president of the regional council was opposed to an offshore viaduct, and favored a tram-train solution through the lava field). Didier Robert managed to convince the French state and the European Union despite the dire state of public finances.

The Nouvelle Route du Littoral ("New Coastal Road") will be 12.3 km (7.6 miles) long. It will be a 6-lane motorway (the current Route du Littoral under the cliffs is only a 4-lane motorway). It will cost 2.23 billion US dollars ($180 million per km/$290 million per mile). The French state will contribute 1.07 billion US dollars, Réunion's regional council will contribute 915 million US dollars, and the European Union will contribute 207 million US dollars. Despite its cost, the Nouvelle Route du Littoral motorway will be toll free!

5.4 km of the 12.3 km will be the offshore viaduct proper. This is 2.5 times the length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and slightly more than two-third the length of the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. The width of the 6-lane viaduct will be 28.9 meters (95 ft), which is larger than the width of both the Golden Gate Bridge (27.4 m/90 ft) and the Oresund Bridge (23.5 m/77 ft). The viaduct will run parallel to the coast at a distance of more than 60 meters (200 feet) from the coast, in order to be out of reach of the worst possible cliff collapse. At that distance from the coast, the ocean floor is between 10 and 15 meters below the surface of the ocean.

The deck of the viaduct, where motorists will be driving, is 29.7 meters (97 ft) above sea-level. This height is meant to leave the deck out of reach of the worst possible waves in a situation of high tide + worst centennial Indian Ocean hurricane. The deck is closer to the surface of the ocean than the Golden Gate Bridge (whose deck is 67 m/220 ft above sea-level), but it is considerably higher than regular overseas viaduct such as the Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys. Price tag for this impressive viaduct: 980 million US dollars, i.e. 44% of the total cost of the Nouvelle Route du Littoral. For comparison, the famous Millau Viaduct in southern France cost "only" $670 million in 2013 US dollars.

Millau viaduct: cost $670 million to build:

Viaduct of the Nouvelle Route du Littoral: will cost $980 million to build:

The 6 lanes on the deck of the viaduct:
(There will unfortunately be no standard motorway hard shoulders on boths sides of the motorway. They were scrapped to diminish the cost of this already very expensive motorway. Instead, there will be a BDD, a sort of sub-standard shoulder that will only be about 1 meter wide, although the two bus lanes will be used as hard shoulders for some years before the bus line is put into service.)

More pictures of the viaduct:

The rest of the Nouvelle Route du Littoral's 12.3 km will be 6.7 km (4.1 miles) of dikes and a smaller 220 m (720 ft) viaduct.

This map shows the viaducts in red and the dikes in blue:

The dikes will be built out into the ocean (with their oceanside plunging 11 meters below the surface of the ocean), but closer to the cliffs than the viaduct, along sections of the coast where the cliffs are smaller and less dangerous in terms of rock falls.

The top of the dike, where the motorway will run, will be 18.7 meters (61 feet) above sea-level. The width of the motorway on the dike will be 34 meters (112 feet), larger than on the deck of the viaduct.

Between the dikes and the cliffs, where the motorway currently runs, the terrain will be returned to nature and left as a zone to absorb rock falls.

At its southern end, the Nouvelle Route du Littoral will be joined with the spectacular Route des Tamarins motorway which was opened to traffic in 2009. It will thus be possible to drive uninterruptedly on a motorway all the way from the northern coast to the southern coast of Réunion.

On to the south!

In total, 18 million cubic meters (23.5 million cubic yards) of rocks and materials will be needed to build the viaduct and especially the dikes. Construction is due to be completed by 2019, and the new motorway should open to traffic in late 2019 or early 2020.

In these videos you can see the future drive on the Nouvelle Route du Littoral, how motorists will experience it.

Here we start in St Denis and move southward along the viaduct and part of the dikes, before returning to St Denis:
Video Link

Here the French construction and civil engineering company Vinci, which is in charge of building the main viaduct, explains the technicalities of the viaduct:
Video Link

Minato Ku Dec 29, 2013 9:48 PM

The cliff falling weren't that bad when I lived in Reunion island between 2000 and 2002.
The northbound lane were often closed but there never were big cliff collapses like in the pictures.

New Brisavoine Dec 30, 2013 11:22 AM

^^That cliff collapse took place in 2006.

Some articles in the local press last week.

Nouvelle Route du Littoral: Ceremony laying the foundation stone
December 20, 2013
The prefect of Réunion, left. The president of the regional council, right.

The first accropode block was officially laid at La Possession, on Friday, December 20, under heavy rainfall.


During construction of the Nouvelle Route du Littoral, which will spread over several years, more than 20,000 accropode blocks will be used to build the dikes and the La Possession interchange.

At the ceremony were present several top officials, among them Jean-Luc Marx, prefect of Réunion, Alain Saint-Ange, Seychelles minister of tourism, Senator Michel Fontaine, the mayor of La Possession Roland Robert, and of course the president of Réunion's regional council, Didier Robert.


"I am very happy to be able to respect a promise that I made 3 years ago. It's December 20, and we're on schedule to start construction", said Didier Robert, after laying the first accropode block with the prefect of Réunion.

A construction work which he calls "colossal and most usefull in terms of security for all users of the road, and most useful for the Réunionese economy."

Bernard Siriex, chairman of Réunion's federation of construction businesses, described the day as "a great day for the construction industry. This project ensures that public works will pick up again and give us hope that construction activity will rise in Réunion." "Specialists from the entire world will come to visit the construction sites, because never has such a long and wide overseas structure been built to resist hurricane forces", he added.

Nouvelle Route du Littoral: Didier Rober proud to start "the largest construction project ever launched on our island"
December 20, 2013


According to Didier Robert, this is a road "distant enough from the cliffs so that we are definitely safe from any massive rock fall."

More than 2,000 Réunionese working on the construction

This 4-lane toll free road for motorists, with some added lanes for public transports, is "one of the most important infrastructure project launched nationwide, and the largest road project in Europe", underlined Didier Robert, adding that 2,000 Réunionese will work on the construction.


"We'll do it without scaling back anything"

The cost of the project, estimated at 1.662 billion euros and depicted as "astronomic" by some, is also under control according to Didier Robert. "Not only are we going to sustain this project, but we will do so without scaling back other commitments that we've made", assured he, mentioning the modernization of the Rolland Garros and Pierrefonds airports, the financial help to the tourism industry, renewable energies, sugarcane, ...

Conscious that this project will never gather unanimous support, Didier Robert said he wished to "let the detractors opposed to this project, as they are to many other projects, by principle, enjoy their full freedom of speech. As for me, I'm on the side of those who choose to move from words to action", concluded he.

hughesnick312 Dec 30, 2013 8:50 PM

Oh my god that le viaduc de meilleu is awesome

New Brisavoine Apr 10, 2014 12:46 AM

The Telegraph has heard about the offshore freeway/motorway that I was talking about a few months ago (see posts above).

'France's most expensive road': Paris pays €1.7 billion for Réunion highway

The Telegraph
9 April 2014

Government says new road on Indian Ocean island's coast is a necessity but the cost has raised eyebrows at a time of economic crisis
Taking seven years to complete, the motorway will link capital Saint-Denis to Réunion’s port and will be built on columns rising out of the ocean

At a time of economic crisis, infrastructural projects are being shelved by governments across the planet.

Not so however for French authorities, who are set to sign a cheque for a staggering €1.66 billion (£1.31 billion) to pay for the construction of a 7.8-mile stretch of coastal motorway on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion.

Dubbed the "most expensive road in France,” the price of building the new highway works out at nearly £110,000 per metre.

As the price suggests, this is no ordinary road. There will be three lanes in each direction and it will be built to withstand 90mph hurricane winds and waves of up to ten metres.

Taking seven years to complete, the motorway will link capital Saint-Denis to Réunion’s port and will be built on columns rising out of the ocean.

Island president Didier Robert has described the project as an “absolute necessity,” while local economist Jean-Phillippe Pierre said it will bring the territory “into the 21st century”.


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