New tools for Motorway assessment

Nowadays in the general vision of the environmental analysis process, infrastructures, especially roads, affect negatively on the landscape. In particular, negative impacts are highlighted in connection with natural landscape through air, soil and water pollution, as well as the territorial fragmentation. The latter in addition to not ensure the continuity of ecosystems, causes the wildlife's death on the roads.

The impact of a big infrastructure threatens to damage the value of local landscapes. Above all, actual policies do not take into account the potential for thinking infrastructure in a different way. The motorway should no longer be just a closed tube that creates more or less fast connections between far places, but a settlement material that is an organic part of a dynamic habitation conditions (M. Ricci, 2012).

In this frame, the research Reinventing A22 promoted by Autostrada del Brennero S.p.a. and developed by University of Trento, focused on the concept of motorway like a backbone that holds together a fragmented, dispersive urban structure, and like an osmotic surface that absorbs everything around itself. In this way it is created a relationship between contexts and elements nearest Motorway's paths.

Today the research is carrying on following this concept. The idea is to design osmotic devices that can establish a one-to-one energetic and  functional relationship with the contexts such as noise barriers, over and underpasses, rest areas and toll booths. In order to achieve this deliverable the research define a new analytical tool, in particular an index useful to evaluated the design action in a preliminary step of the project. In Soil Bioengineering and Road Ecology, mitigation's and offsetting tools are used widely to limit negative impacts caused by roads. This new index, besides to systematize these existent tactics, analyzes motorway's network in order to take advantage of its potentialities. It could be done  imagining motorways differently, reflecting on their metabolism, their function, their structure and internal organization, as if they were ecosystems. Exactly as an ecosystem, or rather as a techno-ecosystem (Naveh, 1983), motorway could exploit its structural, metabolic and morphologic potential to provide energy, ecosystem and functional services to contexts it passes through. Starting from this point, the future design process will aim to maximize the use of this wherewithal, based on the new evaluation index, which will drive the next strategic and tactical choices.

The index will help the design and planning process along the large existing infrastructure to be more sustainable, besides to open up to new prospective for the use of residual, dross and functional spaces that make up the motorway's system. For this reason, imaging a motorway not only safe and smooth with petrol station of environmentally friendly fuels, the landscape planning and design must also work for an infrastructure as resource for surrounding territories and tool of landscape enhancement.


Naveh Z., Lieberman A.S., Landscape Ecology, Theory and Application, Springer, 1983.


Ricci M., New paradigms, List, Trento, 2012.

analytic index, potential services, planning strategies