The Privatisation and Nationalisation of European Roads

The Privatisation and Nationalisation of European Roads

Success and Failure in Public–Private Partnerships

Daniel Albalate

This distinctive and timely book examines the current state and trends in the ownership, management and financing of European high capacity roads. Offering an analysis of three pioneer countries in road privatization, Spain, France and Italy, from their origins to their recent developments, it evaluates how the design of privatisation policies may lead to their success or failure.

Chapter 8: Italy

Daniel Albalate

Subjects: environment, transport, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy, urban and regional studies, transport


Italy became the first country in the World to build a motorway. This was the Milan-Northern Lakes motorway (84 km), authorised in 1922 and opened to traffic in 1924. The first section was Milan-Varese, which became the world benchmark in technological innovation linked to road infrastructure with a construction cost of 90 million Italian liras. The second section was opened in 1925. Although Italy had extremely low car density, the intense industrialisation experienced in the northern regions led to an increase in numbers of cars. The motorway network to serve this increasing travel demand was a central transportation policy of the Fascist government. In 1923, the Ministry of Public Works was reformed in order to stimulate the cooperation between the state and the private sector in infrastructure investments. Thus, the ownership and management model was that of private concessions awarded by the Italian government. The private investors financed construction and had the right to charge tolls to users. These tolls were set to cover investments. The reform not only allowed the model of concessions but also allowed a flexible framework necessary for new financing and management policies. Due to the reform, the building of the motorways could be carried out either by the state or by means of concessions to private firms (Buccella, 1927).

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