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The Highways in Albania are the central state and main transport network in Albania. The motorways and expressways are both part of the national road network. The motorways are primary roads with a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph).[1] They have white on green road signs such as in Italy and other countries nearby. The expressways are the secondary roads, also dual carriageways, but without an emergency lane. They have a speed limit of 90 kilometres per hour (56 mph). They have white on blue road signs.[1]

The A1 is the country's longest and only toll highway connecting the port city of Durrës on the Adriatic Sea in the west as well as the capital of Tirana in the center, with the country of Kosovo in the northeast. The A3 is the second longest motorway and connects Tirana with the Pan-European Corridor VIII, running from Durrës on the Adriatic Sea to Varna on the Black Sea. The A2 is the third longest motorway and represent a significant north-south corridor within the country and the Adriatic-Ionian motorway.

History

The ancient route of the Via Egnatia, which connected ancient Durrës in the west with Constantinople in the east.

Since antiquity, the area of Albania served as an important crossroad within the Roman Empire through the Via Pubblica and Via Egnatia. The former passed through northern Albania, while the latter linked Rome with Byzantium, through Durres on the Adriatic Sea. During World War I, occupying forces opened up new road sections mainly in the mountainous areas of the country. In King Zog's period, further road construction took place near Vlora and at Krraba Pass between Tirana and Elbasan.

The total length of Albania's roads more than doubled in the first three decades after World War II, and by the 1980s almost all of the country's remote mountain areas were connected, either by dirt or paved roads, with the capital city of Tirana, and ports on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. Private car ownership was not allowed and the only vehicles circulating were state-owned trucks, agricultural and official's vehicles, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles. The country's roads, however, were generally narrow, poorly marked, pocked with holes, and in the early 1990s often crowded with pedestrians and people riding mules, bicycles, and horse-drawn carts.

The largest road project in the history of Albania was the construction of the A1 dual carriageway from 2007 to 2010, linking Albania with Kosovo. The segment involved the carving of a mountainous terrain, and the construction of a 5.6 km long tunnel and dozens of bridges.[2] In 2010, Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced plans to build several major highways.[3]

At present, major cities are linked with either single or dual carriageways or well maintained roads. There is a dual carriageway connecting the port city of Durrës with Tirana, Vlorë, and partially Kukës. In fact, there are three formal motorway segments in Albania: Thumanë-Milot-Rrëshen-Kalimash (A1), Levan-Vlorë (A2), and partly Tirane-Elbasan (A3). Most rural segments continue to remain in bad conditions as their reconstruction has only began in the late 2000s by the Albanian Development Fund.[4]

Road system

All roads in the country are property of Albanian Road Authority (Autoriteti Rrugor Shqiptar (ARRSH)), a directorate subordinated to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure based in Tirana. Currently, cars are free of payment while driving on both motorways and expressways except on A1 motorway which has become a toll highway since March 2018. A2 and A3 are planned to become toll highways in the near future. A new road system has been introduced in the early 2000s and is classified as follows[5]:

Type Name (Albanian) Name (English) Description
Autostrada A1 Albania.svg Autostrada Motorway The motorways are the highest level of roadway in the country, marked as A with a number on a green field.
SH1-AL.svg Rrugë Shtetërore State Road The state roads are the main and most common level of roadway in the country, connecting major cities marked as SH with a number on a blue field.
Rrugë të rrethit 37 Albania.svg Rrugë Rrethi District Road The district roads are the lower level of roadway in the country found between districts roadway marked as Rr with a number on a blue field.
Rrugë komunale 19 Albania.svg Rrugë Komunale Municipal Road The municipal roads are the owest level of roadway in the country, typically found in rural areas and marked as K with a number on a white field though it is not observed on the ground.

Motorways

The motorways in Albania are defined by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The country's motorway network has been extensively modernised throughout the end of the communist regime and part of it is still under construction. In Albanian, they are called Autostrada or Autostradë and they are defined as roads with at least two lanes in each direction.[6][7] The markings has green background and are identified as consisting of letter A and the motorway number assigned by the legislation. The national speed limit on an autstrada, effective in case no other speed limits are present, is 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph).[8]

Motorway County Length Description Cities
A1 Durrës, Tirana, Lezhë and Kukës 115 km (71 mi) The A1 (Albanian: Autostrada A1) is a four traffic lane motorway, spanning 115 km (71 mi).[9] The motorway connects the economic centres of Albania including Durrës and Tirana with Kosovo. Durrës, Laç, Lezhë, Rrëshen and Kukës
A2 Fier and Vlorë 46.5 km (28.9 mi) The A2 (Albanian: Autostrada A2) is a four traffic lane motorway, spanning 46.5 km (28.9 mi). It represent a major north–south corridor and as well as a significant section of the Adriatic–Ionian motorway. Fier and Vlorë
A3 Tirana, Elbasan, Berat and Gjirokastër 110 km (68 mi) The A3 (Albanian: Autostrada A3) is a four traffic lane motorway, spanning 110 km (68 mi). After its completion, the motorway will connect Tirana, the country's capital, with the Pan-European Corridor VIII. Further, 31 km (19 mi) are currently under construction, while 79 km (49 mi) are planned. Tirana and Elbasan

Expressways

Motorway County Length Description Cities
SH1 Shkodër, Lezhë, Durrës and Tirana 125 km (78 mi) The SH1 starts on the border of Montenegro near Han i Hotit and proceeds southeast towards Shkodër. It continues south to Lezhë through to Tirana. The route contains junctions with the SH2 expressway and A1 motorway. It represent a major north-south corridor, which forms a significant section of the Adriatic-Ionian motorway. Shkodër, Lezhë, Fushë-Krujë and Tirana
SH2 Durrës and Tirana 33 km (21 mi) Durrës and Tirana
SH3 Tirana, Elbasan and Korçë 151 km (94 mi) Tirana, Librazhd, Lin, Pogradec, Korçë, Devoll and Bilisht
SH4 Durrës, Tirana, Fier and Gjirokastër 215 km (134 mi) Durrës, Fier, Gjirokastër and Kakavijë
SH5 Shkodër and Kukës 0 km (0 mi) Shkodër, Pukë, Kukës and Morinë
SH6 Lezhë and Dibër 0 km (0 mi) Elbasan, Klos and Maqellarë
SH7 Tirana and Elbasan 40.5 km (25.2 mi) Rrogozhina and Elbasan
SH8 Fier and Vlorë 126 km (78 mi) Fier, Vlorë and Sarandë
SH9 Elbasan 3.2 km (2.0 mi) Qafë Thanë

Under construction

Typical construction work along SH1 near the border with Montenegro

Following the end of communism in 1991, the highways in the country began to be modernized with the construction of the National Road 2, connecting the country's capital of Tiranë with the country's second largest city of Durrës. Since 2000, main roadways have drastically improved, though lacking standards in design and road safety.[10][11] This involved the construction of new roadways, planting of trees and related greening projects, and lately the installing of contemporary signs. However, some state roads continue to deteriorate from lack of maintenance while others remain unfinished.

The priority of the first Rama government in 2014 was the completion of unfinished roadways, due to lack of funding. Another major priority was the completion of the Arbër Highway (Rruga e Arbërit), connecting Tirana with the city of Debar in the Republic of Macedonia through the current National Road 6. Eventually, this Superstradë will become part of the Pan-European Corridor VIII, linking Albania with the Republic of Macedonia and Greece.[12] Another important objectives include, the completion of the problematic Tirana-Elbasan Highway part of the A3, the launching of toll highways starting with A1, and the construction of the Southern Axis of Albania Boshti i Jugut, passing across central and southern Albania. The completion of the Eastern Ring of Albania Unaza Lindore passing through Valbonë, Kukës, Krumë, Bulqizë and Librazhd has also been a priority. When all corridors are completed, Albania will have an estimated 759 kilometers of highway linking it with its neighbors.

Despite considerable investments, some dual carriageways are partially up to either motorway or state road standards as they are badly configured, contain unfinished overpasses, uncontrolled access points, lack of fencing and either misplaced or missing road signs, inadequate entry and exit ramps, and are indiscriminately used by animals, mopeds, agricultural vehicles, and pedestrians. These are mostly due to alleged corruption and lack of or low quality projects and feasibility studies.

Works on most highways are mostly completed, though they remained unfinished between 2011 and 2013 as per lack of funds.

Below is a list of main roadways undergoing construction works in the last decade. The Rama 2 Government plans to standardize road projects and continue those left unfinished from previous years:

Planned

  • Autostrada A1 Albania.svg Thumane-Kashar-Rrogozhinë: Autostradë
  • SH1-AL.svg Autostrada A1 Albania.svg Milot-Lezhë-Balldren: Autostradë
  • Shengjin-Velipoje

Underway

  • SH4-AL.svg Autostrada A2 Albania.svg Fier Bypass started in 2013: Autostradë
  • SH1-AL.svg Autostrada A1 Albania.svg Milot Trumpet Interchange, part of Albania-Kosovo Highway
  • Autostrada A1 Albania.svg SH5-AL.svg Fushe Kruje – Milot – Rreshen - Kalimash - Kukes – Morine: Autostradë, part of European Core Road Network's Route 7[13]
  • SH8-AL.svg Vlora Bypass
  • Southwestern and Eastern Tirana Outer Ring: Autostradë
  • SH1-AL.svg Shkodër Bypass started
  • Autostrada A3 Albania.svg Tirana - Elbasan: Autostrade
  • SH76, SH77 Vlora River Highway (Vlorë - Kuç - Qeparo)
  • SH3-AL.svg Korçë - Qafë Plloçë: Superstradë (29 km)
  • SH61, SH6 Tiranë- Brar Canyon - Bulqize, part of Arbër Highway: Superstradë
  • SH75-AL.svg Korce - Erseke
  • Berat - Elbasan: Superstradë
  • SH3 Qukës - Qafë Plloçë: Rrugë
  • Kardhiq - Delvine

Completed

  • SH3-AL.svg Lin - Pogradec: Superstradë
  • SH7-AL.svg Rrogozhina Bypass
  • SH85-AL.svg Durres Bypass (Shkozet)
  • Autostrada A2 Albania.svg Levan (Fier) - Vlorë: Autostradë, part of European Corridor 8. (24.20 km)
  • SH1-AL.svg Shkodër – Hani Hotit MNE, part of the European Core Road Network's Route 2[14]
  • SH1-AL.svg Lezhë - Milot: Resurfacing, part of the European Core Road Network's Route 2
  • SH4-AL.svg Levan (Fier) - Tepelenë: Superstradë (70 km), part of the European Core Road Network's Route 2
  • SH4-AL.svg Durrës - Rrogozhinë: Autostradë (35 km), part of European Corridor 8.
  • SH4-AL.svg Tepelenë - Gjirokastër: Superstradë, part of the European Core Road Network's Route 2
  • SH4-AL.svg Lushnjë - Fier: Autostradë, part of European Corridor 8 (21.70 km)
  • SH8-AL.svg Himarë - Sarandë: Superstradë
  • SH20 Hani Hotit - Tamarë; Vermosh - Dogana MNE
  • SH21 Koplik - Dedaj - Bogë: Rrugë
  • SH22 Fierzë - Bajram Curri
  • SH22 Bajram Curri - Tropojë: Superstradë
    • K22 Valbonë - Dragobi - Bajram Curri
  • SH38 Fushë Krujë - Krujë: Superstradë
  • SH42 Dedaj - Razëm: Rrugë
  • SH72 Lushnje - Berat
  • SH81 Sarandë - Butrint: Superstradë
  • Ura e Kardhiqit - Sarandë: Rrugë
  • Sarandë - Qafë Botë GR: Superstradë
  • Bajram Curri - Margegaj: Superstradë
  • Most coastal roads
  • Other rural segments

Driving in Albania

Overtaking a horse-drawn cart on SH1 between Tirana and Shkodër

Despite the perceived negative connotation to driving in Albania, most vehicles manage not to get into accidents by simply exercising common sense and following their own way through the chaotic traffic. The law of the strongest fully applies on the Albanian roads. In cities, traffic is slow thus more secure than in rural areas. Expect reckless driving such as hair-raising overtaking even on turns, driving on the wrong side of the road, stopping on highways by the road side, uncontrolled entrance points, horse-drawn carts and pedestrians, and complete ignoring of stop signs and right of way at intersections. Albanian drivers are prone to using visual and acoustic aids regularly such as honking, headlight flashing, or high beams at night. Daytime running lamps must be activated outside urban areas.[citation needed]

It is strongly recommended to have an up-to-date GPS, as many new roads have been recently added to the Albanian road network. If the GPS does not work, a paper or internet-based map would be useful. Street names on the ground do not always coincide with maps as the current address system has been recently introduced. In the mountains, some roads can be narrow and windy with hairpins, unpaved, and missing guardrails. A portion of these roads are being gradually paved and brought to European standards by the Albanian Development Fund, FSHZH. Other roads still have few road signs or misleading ones. Its strongly advised to always keep a spare tire.

International routes

SH3 along Shkumbin River and part of Pan-European Corridor VIII

Albania is part of the Pan-European Corridor program, with Pan-European Corridor VIII going through the country. It takes the following route: SH2-AL.svgSH4-AL.svgAutostrada A2 Albania.svg Tirana/Durrës/VloreSH7-AL.svg RrogozhineSH3-AL.svg Elbasan - Skopje - Pernik - Sofia - Plovdiv - Burgas - Varna.

Albania acceded the European Agreement on Main International Traffic Arteries in 2006.[15] However, neither Albania, nor the UNECE, have listed any routes inside the country. The following E Roads are currently defined to end at, or near, the border of Albania.

It is conjectured[by whom?] that these E Roads take the following routes in Albania

See also

References

External links