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Influence of major construction projects on logistics

Reduction of transport times

Construction works are in full swing in Europe to improve the infrastructure on waterways, on the road, rail or in the air. In this interview, Winfried Pudenz, head of street infrastructure and road traffic at the NRW ministry of transport (NRW-Verkehrsministerium) explains the difficulties of the implementation of major projects - and what needs to be considered.

Winfried Pudenz, Photo: MBWSV

What needs to be considered during planning?

Extensive European and national legislation has to be taken into account when realising major infrastructure projects. The planning has achieved a complexity which at the same time is a cost factor and possibly also a source of error. Planning in consideration of the existing substance makes the construction works even more complicated. The frequent reconstruction of the traffic management, the high and increasing demands on occupational safety, environmental and health protection as well as road safety have also contributed to the problem.

How important are transport infrastructure projects for the logistics industry?

The major road construction projects are, of course, of particular interest for the logistics industry because the main load of transports is processed via road traffic. The reactions from the logistics industry to the closure of the Leverkusen Rhine bridge in the course of the A1 for vehicles with more than 3.5 tonnes show, for example, how important this bridge, and thus the upcoming replacement construction, are. Especially bridges are a week point due to their age and the traffic load which could not be foreseen at the time they were built. This affects both, rail and road traffic.

Let us take the Gotthard base tunnel in the Swiss Alps or the Fehmarnbelt tunnel for example. What are the benefits for the logistics industry?

Both projects fill gaps in the European network, in particular for the transport sector, which contribute in reducing transport times. In case of the Gotthard base tunnel, they also make a big contribution to the nature conservation in the Alps.

Are there any differences in the quantity or type of construction projects between European countries?

The answer to this question depends strongly on the age of the respective infrastructure. Countries with a long industrial past therefore have old infrastructures which are more difficult to be expanded and restored than new constructions being planned and built on the "green field".

Why are major projects usually more expensive and why does the construction phase take longer than planned?

The size and the fact that estuaries and entire mountain ranges are tunnelled demonstrate that unpredictable factors can influence the realisation. We are placing buildings in the nature and have to adapt ourselves to the circumstances, not the other way around.

Headerphoto: © djama - Fotolia.com

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