Ferrovial has undertaken one of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of the Portuguese Archipelago of the Azores, the Scut Azores highway.
Cintra was originally awarded the highway concession in 2006 and fellow group company Ferrovial Construction brought the final phases of the project to an end. With all highway segments open to traffic since December 2011, the highway represents an incredible feat of engineering work, principally due to its technical complexity.
The new backbone of the São Miguel in the Azores Archipelago
The Euroscut Açores highway is 93.7 km long and designed on three main axes. The southern axis connects the airport with the south of the Island. The northern axis improves the connection between the Island’s two biggest towns. And lastly the north-eastern axis improves connection with São Miguel’s farthest Department of Nordeste.
Commitment to the community
The opening of this highway to traffic reduces congestion and the time needed to access the businesses centres, university and hospitals by half, with the evident benefits that this entails for the inhabitants of São Miguel.
Additionally, during the construction phase was included the improvement of the infrastructure of Praia Grande, one of the most important beach areas.
A unique project
This has been one of Portugal’s most complex engineering projects. The geography of the Island reflects its volcanic origins, and it was necessary to find some creative solutions involving high investment in infrastructure. The highway is remarkable for its 27 viaducts, especially the Despe-te que suas overpass with its 185 metres between main pillars.
A sustainable highway in an area of high ecological value
To protect ecological capital and to foster integration with the landscape of the Island, rainwater run-off pools were developed, the contents of which are analysed several times a year. Since the Island’s own volcanic stone has been used in their construction, they are well integrated, as are the walls for protection of pastures, agricultural land and forests, all made from the same material.
Measures for landscape integration
The landscape which the motorway crosses is made up of a variety of fields, agricultural land and forests, which flow in a harmonious and orderly manner. To order to have the least possible impact on such natural harmony, Cintra submitted a landscape integration project with a range of measures for boosting such integration.
Moreover, to minimise the risk of flooding, 15 runoff retention tanks were built. Embankments and cleared areas were subject to hydroseeding, and endemic trees and shrubs were planted.
This is just one more example of Cintra’s excellent track record in minimising enviroment and visual impact through landscape integration.
Measures for noise reduction
Some of the measures for noise reduction are the following:
- Noise screening: These screens act as a barrier between emitter and receiver, reducing the noise to below levels allowed by law. Moreover, the materials used and characteristics of such screens are adapted to each specific area, and range from reflective perspex screens to screens made of absorbent porous concrete.
- Elastic road surface: In this case, the aim with elastic road surfacing is to minimise traffic noise produced by the friction between car tyres and road surfaces. Cintra currently has 500 km of roads where this type of road surface is used.
- Noise map: all European motorways managed by Cintra with more than 3,000,000 cars/year have a strategic noise map and relevant plan of action, thus complying with Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise.
The aim of these measures is to reduce noise levels from traffic in noise-sensitive areas, such as population centres or environmentally protected areas.