Roads and highways in germany. Part 1: principles of construction

The roads of each country are the engine of the economy. Today we will talk about the roads and highways in germany, which are considered one of the most important german goods.

Germany has the fourth-largest highway network in the world, and according to its own 2019 data, the total length of its highways is more than 13.000 km.

Photo: adobe stock

The first freeway in europe, linking the cities of cologne and bonn, was built on 6. opened in germany in august 1932. The length of the highway was 20 km and is today marked with the abbreviation A 555. The freeway project was already planned with a speed of 120 km/h, although this was not yet possible at that time.

Special features of the freeways and roads

German autobahns meet international standards and must be designed to meet a number of requirements:

  • Two or more lanes in each direction of travel.
  • A median strip of concrete barriers to separate oncoming traffic. The width of the lane is 3.5-4 meters
    and the height of the crash barriers makes it possible to see what is
    happens on the opposite lane.
  • A mandatory separation of traffic flows on all levels.
  • The road surface consists of asphalt on a concrete base.

In addition to the technical requirements, highways must have the following equipment and infrastructure:

  • Reflective signs with a spacing of max. 50 m;
  • rest areas with parking spaces and restrooms;
  • Gas stations with stores, restaurants and hotels;
  • An automatic traffic monitoring system that allows traffic congestion and weather conditions to be taken into account and sets the maximum speed limit based on these factors;
  • Emergency telephone numbers must be provided every 2 km;
  • Uniform standards for all traffic signs and advance directive signs;
  • Noise barriers to contain the noise of road traffic and prevent animals from accessing the roadways.

Construction of highways

In germany all roads are built with the most modern technologies, which guarantee durability and high quality. The average service life of a road surface is 30-50 years, which is significantly longer than that of most highways in less developed countries. In addition, the quality of use of the road is high in the long term.

First of all, it should be noted that the construction of freeways has nothing to do with the usual methods of asphalt paving used in many other countries. If you look at the individual parts of the highway, it resembles a sandwich of several layers:

  • A prefabricated basic mass;
  • A textile carrier material that fulfills the draining function;
  • A sand and gravel underlayment;
  • A cement concrete layer;
  • A top layer of cement or asphalt.

The work is mainly carried out with the help of machines, which reduces the amount of manual work to a minimum. The machines install the individual layers almost fully automatically.

Photo: wirtgen

Finally, the movement joints are cut and separate slabs are formed to prevent the formation of cracks. These joints are sealed with rubber gaskets.

Photo: wirtgen

To ensure even load distribution, the panels are reinforced with dowels and anchors. These metal structures help to limit the movements of the concrete slabs in the vertical and horizontal directions.

Maintenance of a concrete road precludes local repairs – a damaged section must be completely replaced. In one shift (12 hours), the workers can replace an average of 800 m. the cost of 1 km starts at 2 million euros, whereas an asphalt road costs about the same.

asphalt technology in germany is gradually being replaced by concrete. The main advantage of asphalt is the rapid hardening of the mixture (concrete takes several days) and the possibility of repairing potholes. The advantages of concrete include its environmental friendliness and durability.

Numbering system for highways

The german autobahns have their own numbering system. A freeway number consists of the letter A and digits (max. 3 digits). the number of digits indicates the length of the highway. The least developed highways can be made visible with the help of three-digit numbers. Two-digit numbers denote medium-length roads that usually connect major highways – their highway number contains a single number.

For example, the longest freeway, the A7, runs through the whole of germany and allows traffic between austria and denmark.

An even number indicates that the route makes it possible to move between the western and eastern parts of germany.

The odd numbers on the highways indicate to the driver that he is traveling between the northern and southern parts of the country.

The A17, for example, is a freeway to dresden, which can be used to reach prague. There are also signs with the letter E – these are european roads.

In this article, we have tried to explain in as much detail as possible the history and principles of road and highway construction in germany. To be continued…&

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