The possibility of expanding the Apennine stretch of the A1 highway had already been considered following the 1982 enactment of law 531/82 ,"Ten year plan for trunk roads and highway sector reorganisation measures", which approved the completion and modernisation of trunk routes. A first design planning proposal for expansion of the Bologna-Firenze highway stretch is defined by the Committee of Experts appointed by Autostrade per l'Italia.

In 1986, approval of The General Transport Plan assimilated highway expansion.
In 1990, following the drawing up of the Environmental Impact Study for the work, Autostrade per l'Italia entered into a Construction convention with the Ministries of Public Works and of the Environment, the Tuscany and Emilia Romagna Regions, ANAS and the local authorities .

The Region approved the project location and ANAS approved the project's technical aspects in 1992.

The Government approved the Bologna-Firenze expansion intervention in 1996.

Autostrade per l'Italia and ANAS entered into a new convention, which extended the highway concession from 2018 to 2038 and introduced an undertaking to expand the A1 between Florence and Bologna, without tariff increase, with the construction of a new, more modern and efficient by-pass stretch, known as Variante di Valico. A long and complex discussion ensued, which delayed the commencement of works, and focused on the best choice of project design to allow the "Variante" (by-pass) or the "Variantina" (small by-pass), an alternative shorter but technically infeasable route across the Apennine area.

It was only in August 2001, by virtue of the Resolution of the Council of Ministers, that the original route approved by ANAS and the Regions in 1992 (Variante) was confirmed. The approval process came to an end in 2002, the same year in which Environmental and social and economical observatories were set up for the construction of the Variante di Valico as envisaged in the conventions entered into with the Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany Regions to ensure compliance with the envisaged levels of environmental impact for the work.

Work on the Variante di Valico finally commenced in 2004. It is expected to be opened to traffic in 2014. The approval process for the entire A1 expansion project is not yet complete, as the Services Conference for the Firenze Sud - Incisa stretch is still underway.