Luxembourg motorways at full capacity
(CS) Luxembourg's motorways have been at full capacity for the last five years, a representative of the roads and briges administration has said, with millions of euros spent annually on the maintenance of highways and tunnels.
Some eight to 12 million euros are spent on resurfacing every year. In addition to that traffic signs need to be replaced, markings to be redone. Greenery along the motorway needs to be trimmed back, fences mended and wires for electronic road signs serviced.
In case of an accident, replacing 16 metres of guard rail costs 2,200 euros. Securing the motorway for one hour for clear-up works costs 160 euros.
Costs pile up and this does not even include the extensive tunnel network, which comes with a maintenance bill of around two and a half million euros annually.
There are 18 tunnels on the Luxembourg motorway network, including those on the A7, also known as the Route du Nord or “Nordstrooss”. The ratio of tunnel to motorway is similar to that found in Austria or Switzerland with their Alpine regions, explained Paul Mangen, responsible for highway maintenance at the roads and bridges administration (Administration des ponts et chausées).
Every tunnel undergoes maintenance twice a year, with a long check list including anything from ventilation to carbon dioxide levels, visibility and lighting, and the technical control room.
When the A7 opens in September, Luxembourg's motorway network will measure 161.7 kilometres. However, it dates back barely 50 years. Only in 1967 did parliament greenlight a bill to connect Luxembourg City to the border regions. Two years later, stretches of motorway between Kirchberg-Senningerberg and Pontpierre-Esch/Lallange were completed.
The borders were not reached until the 1980s. By comparison, however, traffic on the A1 Trier motorway reached around 5,000 cars per day in 1988. Today, 57,000 cars on average use the route. Congestion increases the closer the motorway gets to Luxembourg City. While on the German side around 33,000 cars use the motorway daily, the peak near Luxembourg City is 75,000 cars.
On the A6 traffic is even heavier with peaks of 100,000 cars using the motorway per day.
The result – Luxembourg's motorway network is at full capacity, Mangen explained.
A number of motorway projects are underway to add lanes and increase capacity, especially for cross-border traffic, with thousands of commuters coming to Luxembourg from Germany, France and Belgium every day.
At the same time, the government is pursuing a strategy of improving public transport options to encourage more people to leave the car at home or at a P&R car park near the border.
Aside from cars, however, Luxembourg is also a thoroughfare for lorries crossing Europe, especially since many use the opportunity to make use of cheap petrol and diesel prices to refuel.
Reporting by Jan Söfjer