Highways in Spain
2015年10月19日 来源:

The Spanish motorway network is the fourth largest in the world by length, after the United States, China and Canada. As of 2008[update], there are 15,152 km (9,415 mi) of High Capacity Roads (Sp. Vías de Gran Capacidad) in the country. There are two main types of such roads, autopistas and autovías, which historically differed in the strictness of the standards they are held up to.

Differences between autopista and autovía

The distinction between two kinds of high capacity roads is mainly a historical one, seldom with practical consequences for most but the oldest motorways. Both kinds are divided highways with full access control and at least two lanes per direction. General speed limits for both are mandated by the Spanish Traffic Law as 60–120 km/h (37–75 mph), though there are groups that ask for the latter to be raised to 140 km/h (87 mph). Specific limits may be imposed based on road, meteorologic or traffic conditions.

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Autopistas are specifically reserved for automobile travel, so all vehicles not able to sustain at least 60 km/h (37 mph) are banned from them. Thus, they may not be an upgrade to an older road, since the Spanish legislation requires an alternate route to be provided for such vehicles. Many, but not all, autopistas are toll roads, which also mandates an alternate toll-free route (though not necessarily a freeway) under the Spanish laws. An example is the AP-2 toll autopista, which links Zaragoza with Barcelona through the Monegros desert. In this case, the alternative is the N-II, the national road that preceded the A-2 autovía.

On the other hand, autovías are usually (though not always) upgrades from older roads, and never toll roads. In general, slow vehicles like bicycles and agricultural machinery are allowed under certain restrictions so as to not disrupt the traffic excessively or cause any danger. Furthermore, an autovía will most likely follow the original road very closely, only deviating from it to avoid direct penetration into towns (which are looped around in variantes). Thus, the upgraded road usually serves as the base for one of the two directions of the new autovía, which means the turns can be steeper than in autopistas. All in all, an autovía:

Allows traffic banned from an autopista, like bicycles. However, if the autovía is built as a new road instead of an upgrade to an older one, this traffic may be banned too.
May have little to no shoulders, which are then marked with a solid line instead of the broken line of a transitable shoulder.
May have acceleration and deceleration lanes that are much shorter than those of autopistas.
May have tighter turns and steeper gradients than an autopista is allowed.
If space-constrained, it may even have bus stops on a service lane in the autovía itself, as opposed to requiring them to be placed on a service lane physically separated from the main road.

However, most of the situations listed here only apply to the oldest autovías, and mainly to the radial A-1 through A-6 plus the A-42 near their endpoints, which were the first to be twinned in the 60s into dual carriageways (with at-level intersections) and then were upgraded to limited-access freeways in the 70s-80s, keeping most of their old route unchanged except where the old national road ventured into towns. In those cases, the freeway would make a semi-loop called a variante around the town, leaving the old national road as the access between the freeway and the town. New autovías usually have perfectly normal acceleration and deceleration lanes, very safe turns and transitable shoulders. Thus, the practical difference between a "new" autovía and a generic autopista is mainly the frequency of exits, which is usually higher in an autovía - upgraded from an old road with many crosses - than in a new, purpose-designed autopista with fewer preconditions imposed on it.


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