The construction of the Variante di Valico involved the upgrading of 62.5 km of the Apennine stretch of the A1 between Sasso Marconi and Barberino, with the consequent improvement of the road network and the reduction in the travel time of the stretch between Bologna and Florence, one of the busiest in Italy, characterised by peaks of approximately 89,000 vehicles a day, with peaks of approximately 25,000 lorries and buses (amounting to an estimated total of approximately 4 million travel hours per year).
The work carried out was a major engineering challenge, given the technical difficulty faced during construction: the work took place in one of Europe's most geologically and morphologically complex regions in terms of the gas and unstable geological formations in the underground excavations.
Work was carried out in two macro-stretches, as described below:
SASSO MARCONI - LA QUERCIA STRETCH
The intervention consisted of expanding the existing highway to 3 lanes for approximately 20 km, with a number of changes to the by-pass layout, and refurbishing the Sasso Marconi junction.
The works, which commenced in 2002, were completed on 9 June 2007, with the opening of the entire stretch to traffic.
LA QUERCIA - BARBERINO STRETCH
The planning of this stretch, the first draft of which dates back to 1985, received the final approval of the Council of Ministers in August 2001.
The Services Conference, which imposed more than 1,000 prescriptions, resulting in the need for additional approvals - obtained during another 4 subsequent Services Conferences - came to an end in November 2001.
The first road works were opened in March 2004, whilst the entire stretch was opened to traffic on 23 December 2015.
Interventions affected approximately 43 km, broken down as follows:
- construction between La Quercia and Aglio (approximately 37 km) of a new highway (Variante), in addition to the existing route. Motorists can therefore decide whether to take the new Express highway or the Panoramic route;
- construction of a new 3-lane highway stretch for southbound traffic on the Aglio - Barberino stretch. The existing 4-lane highway, is reserved for northbound traffic
- construction of 2 new junctions (Badia and Poggiolino) and refurbishment of the Barberino junction, on which work was completed in May 2007, and of the Rioveggio junction.
The work affected 8 municipalities in the Emilia Romagna and Tuscany regions (Sasso Marconi, Marzabotto, Monzuno, Grizzana Morandi, Castiglione dei Pepoli, San Benedetto Val di Sambro, Barberino di Mugello and Firenzuola). It is being financed by Autostrade per l'Italia, which is undertaking a series of interventions, including:
- a slip road connecting with the municipality of Firenzuola;
- construction of schools and sports facilities;
- restoration of monuments and historical centres;
- expansion of ordinary roads;
- relocation of high voltage power lines to allow elimination of electromagnetic pollution in the municipality of Grizzana Morandi.
Environmental observatories have also been set up in Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, under the Grantor's supervision is currently being approved by the Authorities.