Shortage of public investment leads to deterioration of Spanish roads

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish roads local networks

MADRID – As always it is expected to be very busy on Spanish roads this summer. Therefore, it is important to know the condition of the roads are and which are the most dangerous. The Spanish Road Federation makes this clear with a sample and the conclusion is very worrying.

The end of mobility restrictions due to the pandemic and the start of the summer holidays mean that traffic is ubiquitous on Spain’s roads. Furthermore, the Spanish traffic agency DGT predicts 91.2 million road trips in July and August, with peaks at weekends. 

Spanish roads condition checked with random samples 

This significant increase in traffic is also putting the road’s condition to the test. Especially the roads have been significantly underused over the past 18 months. In 2020, the Spanish Roads Association (AEC) conducted a random check in which a 100 metres section on 3,000 roads was inspected. During this biennial survey, the road surface, the markings and the metal barriers along the road are checked. 

Roads in Spain deficient to very deficient 

This, together with data from the Spanish Ministry of Transport and Mobility, shows that the general condition of the roads in Spain is “deficient to very deficient”. In Asturias, La Rioja and Aragón, the roads are in the worst condition and the status is therefore ‘very deficient’. Moreover, Extremadura achieved the highest score. However the roads are still not sufficient for the quality of the road network. 

Investment shortage leads to poorer roads 

The Spanish Road Federation reports that both the Spanish government and regional authorities have underinvested in the road network. Therefore, this has lead to a gradual deterioration of roads in Spain. However, in general, highways and dual carriageways are in better shape than the local road network, where 75% of accidents occur. 

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The report states that between 2009 and 2019, the Ministry of Transport and Mobility of Spain made as much as 76% less investment in maintaining and making the roads in Spain. 

Which roads in Spain are the most dangerous? 

In the sample, the AEC gives points based on various indicators. These include the number of accidents, the length of the route and the daily traffic. However, the report does not discuss all avenues in detail, but does highlight a few. 

The worst route is the N-2 at kilometre post 245 in Zaragoza. The routes with the most accidents and casualties are the A-55, kilometre marker 12, near Mos (Pontevedra); the A-77a, kilometre marker 0 near Alicante and the T-11, kilometre marker 17 near Tarragona. 

Necessary investment vs. real investment Spain 

To remedy this situation, an investment of almost €7.5 billion is needed. For the national road network, with a combined length of 25,000 kilometers, €2.2 billion would be needed. And for regional roads, with a combined length of 75,000 kilometers, slightly more than 4.7 billion would have to be set aside. 

In the 2021 budget, the Spanish government has released a budget of €1.24 billion. This mainly concerns maintenance of roads managed by the Spanish government, but is also intended for setting up projects. At the regional level, some Spanish regional governments, such as La Rioja and Madrid, are pushing to attract European funds to tackle the maintenance and safety of their own roads. 

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