“Green” asphalt: a milestone towards climate-friendly road construction
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The Canton of Basel-Stadt Department of Construction and Transport and a Basel-based construction materials technology institution developed CO2-negative asphalt. Asphalt produced with plant-coal binds more CO2 than is produced in its manufacture. Basel’s road construction’s CO2 footprint should be reduced by the high-quality road surface. Basel-Stadt may permanently store 450 tonnes more CO2 equivalent in its roadways than asphalt production causes each year.
Basel-Stadt has the goal of eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions on cantonal territory by 2037. Road construction using ordinary asphalt emits greenhouse gases. The canton wants to restore roads only when necessary and use asphalt sparingly and properly. If repair is needed, “green” asphalt made with plant-coal will lower Basel’s road construction’s CO2 impact.
In Basel, IWB’s plant manufactures certified plant coal from plant waste without oxygen. The technique heats the district heating network. The residual plant carbon is CO2 collected from the environment during growth. Thus, atmospheric CO2 is permanently removed. Basel-Stadt Civil Engineering Office and Institute for Construction Materials Technology ViaTec Basel AG created and tested asphalt mixtures with varying plant carbon levels for a research project. Plant-coal asphalt is high-quality, has strong technical features, meets Swiss asphalt standards, and is durable. Compared to regular road surfaces, this asphalt has a negligibly higher price.
Next, the Basel-Stadt civil engineering office will cooperate with regional pavement mixing factories to simplify pavement mix production. The Basel-Landschaft and Basel-Stadt civil engineering offices will regularly share their veggie carbon asphalt expertise.
The typical building volume of recent years suggests Basel-Stadt could permanently store 1,250 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in its roadways each year. Around 450 tonnes more than road construction-related asphalt output.
BMDV: Feasibility Study Middle Rhine Rail Expansion
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The rail corridor on the Middle Rhine between Bonn and Mainz/Wiesbaden is a central component of the infrastructural connection from the North Sea to the Mediterranean and as such involves a high volume of freight and passenger transport.
In order to relieve the population in the Middle Rhine Valley from noise due to the volume of rail traffic and at the same time to enable better traffic conditions for rail traffic on this important north-south connection, the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV) is actively looking into the Middle Rhine corridor between Troisdorf and Wiesbaden and has had various infrastructural solutions examined for their benefits in relation to the costs incurred.
In 2021, the BMDV also commissioned an in-depth feasibility study to examine further route variants for the “Middle Rhine corridor: target network II” plan case and to further optimise them for future macroeconomic assessments. For example, a first route variant (“Westerwald variant”) was already examined as part of the preparation of the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (BVWP) 2030.
In the study, the commissioned experts were able to develop a modular route which can be implemented in several construction stages and which is two billion Euros cheaper than the Westerwald variant. The proposed cheaper alternative route runs for about 150 km from Mainz-Bischofsheim to Cologne-Gremberg. The savings are made possible above all by not building the entire line from scratch. Where possible, existing tracks and routes are to be used. Nevertheless, the most favourable variant envisages a 69-kilometre-long new line between Wiesbaden and Neuwied. Because of the topography in the Taunus and Westerwald, it would run mainly in tunnels, but cross the Lahn valley on a bridge. The study mentions construction costs of around seven billion euros with an estimated construction time of 15 years. As a result, however, no positive benefit-cost ratio could yet be decided by the experts for the current traffic volume. Until an economically viable solution is available, the BMDV will continue to invest considerable financial resources in noise protection in order to further reduce noise pollution for residents along the Middle Rhine.
In order to keep the local and regional perspective in mind at all times, the feasibility study was closely accompanied over a period of two years by a working group with the participation of representatives of the affected federal states and DB Netz AG.
A link to the study is attached below.
Sources (in German):
German Inland Waterways to receive 150 million € additional funding
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This year, the German waterways will receive more funding from the federal transportation budget.
The investment budget for waterways in 2023 was lowered by € 350 million compared to the previous year. All industry efforts to bridge the gap were futile. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing was given the authority to shift up to € 250 million from other modes of transportation spending.
Around € 150 million will be withdrawn from other projects and devoted to the waterways. However, according to Berlin sources, just € 100 million will be available for infrastructure repair and upkeep.
The remaining € 50 million, will be utilized to offset higher operational costs in the Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) fleet.
The outlook for the following years is brighter: the budget for 2024 will be increased from € 1.35 billion to € 1.77 billion. This signifies that the previous year’s level will be attained once more. The amount is expected to climb to about € 1.9 billion in the coming years.
Inland navigation stakeholders welcomed this as a positive step, but wanted a long-term investment of € 2 billion to € 2.2 billion.
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