Slovenia: towards sustainable and modern road transport
Slovenia is often called the green heart of Europe. It lies between the mountains of Austria and Italy, the Pannonian plains of Hungary and the warm and clear Adriatic Sea. Owing to its geographical position at the crossroads of European transport routes, with dispersed settlements and diverse landscape, Slovenia is densely crisscrossed by roads of all different sizes, while its central location makes it easily accessible from all parts of Europe and beyond.
Crossroads of Europe
Two pan-European transport corridors pass through the varying geographical region, parallel to the north-south and east-west direction of its motorway axes, which are in the final phase of construction. These corridors are used every day by over 50,000 freight and passenger vehicles. Over 460 kilometres of newly built motorways and expressways now cross the country, most of them less than a decade old. The main roads and local roads add 36,000 kilometres of road to this network. In the new Europe, whether you are travelling from Germany to Greece, or from Italy to Hungary, chances are you will be crossing through this small alpine country.
The construction of the Slovene section of the pan-European transport corridors, which became part of the EU's trans-European transport network when Slovenia joined the EU, represents the realisation of Slovenia's central strategic transport goal. There are now plans for an integrated traffic system connecting regional centres within Slovenia, which will perform the role of traffic nodes. These centres will be integrated in the trans-European traffic network. By 2013, an additional 500 kilometres of motorways and expressways will be added to this network, speeding the passage of the goods and passenger vehicles crossing through the green heart of Europe.
In this era of intelligent transport solutions, particular attention is being given to establishing intelligent systems for traffic management and safety. For example, there are plans to introduce an electronic tolling system in free traffic flow, signalling Slovenia's rapid modernisation in road transport.
New construction needed
However, in the field of national roads, Slovenia is facing severe infrastructural challenges. Simply put, the quality and range of roads no longer suit present needs. The existing roads are in a relatively poor condition due to insufficient investment in the past decades; efforts have so far been directed mainly at piecemeal renovation of the existing national road network, rather than a complete overhaul. Bottlenecks are also appearing. Here too, new investments to increase the capacity of the national road network.
International partnerships for end-user satisfaction
Slovenia is always on the lookout for those technological changes that will improve the experience of those using its roads. International cooperation – particularly since joining the EU – is for Slovenia a window on the development of modern technologies in the field of road traffic which it can introduce at home. The organisation of the TRA 2008 conference in Slovenia will be a spur to further work, and the chance to form productive partnerships with conference attendees to put those modernising changes in place.