What is a freeway

Roads and motorways in Germany. Part 1: Principles of Construction

Every country's roads are the engine of the economy. Today we are talking about the roads and highways in Germany, which are considered to be one of the most important German goods.

Germany has the fourth largest motorway network in the world and according to its own information from 2019, the total length of the motorways is more than 13,000 km.

The first motorway in Europe, which connects the two cities of Cologne and Bonn, was opened in Germany on August 6, 1932. The length of the motorway was 20 km and is now marked with the abbreviation A 555. Even then, the motorway project was planned to be driven at 120 km / h, although this was not yet possible at the time.

Special features of the highways and roads

German motorways comply with international standards and must be designed in such a way that they meet a number of requirements:

  • Two or more lanes in each direction of travel.
  • A median made of concrete protective walls to separate oncoming traffic. The width of the lane is 3.5-4 meters
    and the height of the bulkheads allows you to see what
    happens on the opposite lane.
  • A compulsory separation of traffic flows at all levels.
  • The road surface is made of concrete-based asphalt.

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

  • reflective signs at a maximum distance of 50 m;
  • Relaxation areas with parking lots and toilets;
  • Petrol stations with shops, restaurants and hotels;
  • an automatic traffic monitoring system that allows traffic jams and weather conditions to be taken into account and, based on these factors, sets the maximum speed limit;
  • the telephone numbers for the emergency call must be given every 2 km;
  • uniform standards for all traffic signs and direction signs;
  • Noise barriers to dampen the noise of road traffic and prevent animals from entering the lanes.

Construction of highways

In Germany, all roads are built with the most modern technologies, which guarantee a long service life and high quality. The average useful life of a pavement is 30-50 years, which is significantly longer than 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 highways has nothing to do with the usual methods of paving asphalt in many other countries. If you look at the individual parts of the highway, it looks like a sandwich made up of several layers:

  • a prefabricated base;
  • a textile carrier material, which fulfills the drainage function;
  • a sand and gravel pad;
  • a cement concrete layer;
  • a top layer of cement or asphalt.

The work is mainly carried out with the help of machines, which is why manual work is reduced to a minimum. The machines pave the individual layers almost fully automatically.

Finally, the expansion joints are cut and separate panels are made to prevent the formation of cracks. These joints are sealed with rubber seals.

To ensure that the load is evenly distributed, the panels are reinforced with dowels and anchors. These metal structures help limit the movement of the concrete slabs in the vertical and horizontal directions.

Maintaining a concrete road excludes 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 roughly the same.

Asphalt technology in Germany is gradually being replaced by concrete. The main advantages 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.

Motorway numbering system

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

For example, the longest motorway, the A7, runs through the whole of Germany and enables 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 of the highways indicate to the driver that he is traveling between the northern and southern parts of the country.

For example, the A17 is a motorway to Dresden, with which you can reach Prague. There are also signs with the letter E - these are European roads.

In this article we have tried to explain the history and principles of road and autobahn construction in Germany in as much detail as possible. To be continued ... 🙂

Photo: Adobe Stock


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