The Privatisation and Nationalisation of European Roads
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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.
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Chapter 9: France

Daniel Albalate


Given the increase in vehicle numbers in France after World War II and the country's economic recovery in the mid-1950s, together with the expected increase in trade based on its geographical centrality, the French state launched an extensive programme of highway construction in order to recover from the delay it had suffered relative to its main neighbouring states (Cour des Comptes, 1999). Above all, the French state sought to devote its resources to the construction of high-capacity roads. With this end in mind, it set up a special dedicated fund (Le Fonds Special d'Investissement Routier, FSIR) in 1951, financed from a percentage of the tax revenues on motor fuel, and introduced the necessary legislation to initiate a programme of motorway concessions. Although the first plans for building a motorway to the west of Paris were initiated in 1927 and the first 20 km stretch was opened in 1949, motorway construction did not really take off until 1955 with the enactment of a law that afforded legal status to motorway concessions. In parallel, the government approved a second road programme (1955-1961), which projected the building of 1800 km of new motorway in addition to the 135 km already being built, albeit that at that date the government had only constructed a number of motorway sections (amounting to 77 km) in urban areas.

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