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Asphaltica 2020 - Road works start again

From March 21st to March 25th, in Verona, an exposition on the road supply chain

Asphaltica is the European exhibition dedicated to the entire production chain of asphalt and road infrastructure which will take place in Verona (at the exposition district known as Veronafiere) from March 21st to March 25th 2020. The exhibition, promoted by SITEB (Association Italian Roads and Bitumen) and Veronafiere, represents a one of a kind event due to its ability to gather together all the industry’s main actors (machinery and installations’ manufacturers, oil and gas companies, research labs, representatives of the chemical industry for rubber and additives, alternative inert materials, reinforcing and waterproofing membranes for road surfaces, etc) while offering a rich agenda of seminars and conventions.

As per tradition, the exhibition will take place together with SaMoTer and it will revolve around the complex world of roads and infrastructure; a subject sometimes undervalued and ignored, but always highly innovative and as updated as no other branch of the construction industry, particularly when relating to environmental safeguard within the concept of circular economy.

This event will witness numerous companies introducing their latest innovations in terms of products and processes applicable to a variety of sectors: environment, sustainability and safeguard, norms, controls and licencing, technologies and products, innovation and smart roads.
On Saturday 21st of March, SITEB and Eurobitume, the European Association of bitumen manufacturers, will launch the seminar agendaby promoting an international seminar on the future role of bitumen within road construction and the industry, in general.
The discussion will mostly revolve around the environmental sustainability of bitumen and itslegitimacy as an element of economic development. On the same day, ANAS will introduce its own seminar illustrating the company’s most recent innovations in the field of security measures and specifically about DSM barriers.

Especially interesting for the public administration and business technicians, a number of appointments have been scheduled throughout the whole 5 days period of the expo with the aim of releasing valuable instructions and updates on the correct maintenance of road paving, as well as planning, implementing and efficiently controlling road construction and maintenance works.
Moreover, visitors will be given the chance to experience the most innovative and least environmental affecting techniques for the construction and maintenance of the road.

“In light of todays’ scenario, made of insufficient investments by the Government and Local Entities on roads” highlights Michele Turrini, President of SITEB, “the new edition of Asphaltica undertakes a crucial role aiming to challenge our Institutions, who appear determined to keep ignoring the strategic role played by our national road heritage, victim of such a gradual and detrimental process that won us a place at the bottom of the European rankings on road viability. After so many calls for help have gone unheard, it is time to turn on the lights on a issue which cannot be postponed any longer”.

 

Road works data and market trends

The year 2019 registered an important return to road works, following 10 years (2007-2016) of constant decrease and two years where road works barely managed to meet values set way below the benchmark considered necessary to re-instate our road heritage.
By the end of 2019, the production level of bituminous conglomerate (asphalt), the main index of road constructions and maintenance activities, reached the amount of 30 million tons for the first time in the last 13,although remaining way below the pre-crisis production standards (up to 2006, the production level was steadily set above the 40 million tons per year). This important change in trend is mostly the result of a number of investments carried out by ANAS, which, after a long period of inactivity, finally proceeded to reinstate monetary funds for this specific purpose. However, the situation remains critical for provincial routes, both in the case of large municipalities, such as Rome, as well as for smaller centres affected by serious economic issues.
On a national level, the complex and outdated legislativenorm currently in place contributes to slow down any possible recovery of said activities.

In the last few years, companies had to witness their expectations being unfulfilled due to the creation of procedures such as the new Code of Contracts and the Decree to Unlock Construction Sites. These measures, contrary to what was expected, not only did not help smooth the intricate procedures already in place, but they contributed to make the activities of companies and Public Administration even more complicated than what the originally were, generating an additional deceleration in the release of work announcements.
Today’s recent increase in maintenance activities, generated by ANAS’ release of investments on road works (being ANAS the Country’s main contractor) should be regarded by the Government as the perfect chance to create a leverage effect with regard to the necessary maintenance activities which have been postponed by local administrations for way too long.

As reported by SITEB’s president Michele Turrini: “After closing down the Maneuver and after terminating the new election chapter in the coming days, we hope the Government will finally include in its agenda the creation of a plan to address the need for safer Italian infrastructures, bridges, roads and overpasses for travellers. The mistakes made in the past, and often followed by heavy consequences, should never occur again. The positive data registered in 2019 should not be used as an excuse to drop the general attention on the need to correctly maintain our roads. In the last 10 years, the lack of investments in maintenance activities, corresponding to the amount of 10 billion euros, seriously compromised our road heritage, contributing to its gradual deterioration; in some cases, such deterioration was capable of reaching the deepest layers of the pavement, making it necessary to seek very expensive interventions of structural renovation. Municipal and provincial roads represent those mostly in need of urgent and immediate intervention.  In order to make up for those mistakes, we estimate that investments on roads maintenance corresponding to the amount of 40 billion euros are necessary”.
“We often hear about new mobility landscapes, where smart roads, independent driving and electric vehicles will lead the way. In order for this technological revolution to take place it is essential that a safe and flawless road network is guaranteed” claims Turrini.

According to the Association, if we remained on the current asphalt production levels (around 30 million of tons per year) an amount of time corresponding to 12-15 years will be necessary in order to re-establish an appropriate level of safety to all the roads. Additionally, twice this amount of time will be needed to fully rebuild at least once all 600.000 Km of the total national road network.
In 2019, the increase in bituminous conglomerate was coupled with an 11% increase in production value and installation (over 2 billion), while the number of manpower and production stations remained steady, respectively 31.000 and 380 units.

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