Investing in our greatest asset: roads

An efficient, effective, well-maintained road network is not only crucial economically (to the transportation of people, goods and services), but also extremely important socially (to mobility) and to the environment (CO2 emissions). An insufficient road network and poorly maintained roads negatively affect the economy and also provide a poor experience for commercial and domestic road users.  

“With 75% of materials worldwide transported by truck, for me investing in road maintenance is the key message as we strive to keep this important asset in optimum condition for future generations.” Aimé Xhonneux - Director General of Eurobitume  

Since January 2014, the European Union has had a Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) infrastructure policy that spans the continent: East and West, North and South. With a budget of €24.05 billion up to 2020, this policy aims to aid the economic recovery by closing the gaps between Member States' transport networks, removing bottlenecks that hamper the smooth functioning of the internal market and overcoming technical barriers.  

Today, most European countries have a national road network that serves all their key regions and conurbations. The challenge now is more about how to make the best out of this valuable asset, by improving its efficiency – ensuring the road surface and its underlying structure are properly maintained, and creating intelligent transport systems that enable the roads to carry increased volumes of traffic, safely.

Roads are one of the most significant assets and provide large benefits to society. However, poor asset management has led to many road networks being inadequately maintained, causing this most valuable asset to deteriorate. Instead of being a positive enabler to economic growth, some roads are in fact becoming a restraining factor to economic success.  

“To make our most valuable asset more efficient, we should first ensure appropriate maintenance to avoid untimely traffic disturbance and make cost-effective use of public money.” Jean-François Corté - Secretary General of PIARC (World Road Association)  

“Today’s main challenges facing the EU road sector are congestion, emissions and infrastructure maintenance, which is an immediate issue.” Ismail Ertug MEP – Member of European Parliament’s Transport & Tourism Committee

At Eurobitume we believe there should be more sharing of knowledge and experiences, more communication about best practices, and better promotion of the important message that roads are our greatest asset and should be looked after properly. That is why ‘Investing in our greatest asset: roads’ was the theme of the 6th Eurasphalt and Eurobitume (E&E) Congress, held in Prague at the beginning of June 2016.  

1,077 people from more than 20 countries attended the E&E Congress, which brought together individuals associated with the bitumen, asphalt and road industries from around the world to hear about the latest cutting-edge developments and ground-breaking research, and to discuss important topical issues with fellow experts. 

“It’s important to make road users, road owners and road authorities aware of the financial value of their roads, especially regarding their day-to-day life, mobility and prosperity.” Christophe Nicodème - Director General, European Union Road Federation (ERF)  

In 2015, the European Union Road Federation (ERF) developed  their ‘Keeping Europe Moving’ manifesto on Road Asset Management to highlight the problems caused by the Europe-wide shortfall in road infrastructure maintenance funding and its dramatic consequences. This includes a huge deterioration of the network, higher risks of accidents, longer journey times, more congestion and increased exhaust fumes"

“Europe’s road networks are under immense and growing pressure. In the UK, traffic is at a record level. In 1950 there were two million cars on the road, today there are 15 times that number. Over the same period, road length has barely changed.” Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications, RAC Foundation UK  

“If you don’t invest in preventative maintenance, it will cost much more in the end. In Germany, many bridges have been closed to commercial vehicles, making the journey much longer and increasing the direct and indirect costs for transport companies - higher than the maintenance costs of the bridge itself.” Ayberk Özcan – Former President, European Asphalt Pavement Association (EAPA)

“When it comes to efficiency, the most expensive strategy is to wait until road wear and tear makes action unavoidable.” Ulrich Klaus Becker – Vice-President, ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club)  

Everyone who has an interest in keeping our roads flowing and in good condition should get involved. We have to interact with road builders, authorities, businesses, governments, car users, and the general public, so that everyone plays their part in maintaining mobility, increasing safety and managing climate change.


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