Since I drive the Autobahn every day, a road with high speeds and lots of traffic, I endure plenty of roadworks. And I’ve decided that the individual quirks of Austrian roadworks deserve their own blog.
There’s always something going on
It’s like they have an Autobahn road crew, and as soon as they finish working in one area, they all just move to the next and start over. Often part of my Autobahn journey is being resurfaced, sometimes they’re working in the tunnels, clearing trees and debris from beside the road, or just putting up/pulling down those orange winter snow poles.
Road works zones are not that slow
It seems like the standard speed for a roadwork zone on the Autobahn is 80… except in tunnels where it goes down to 60… and I have to say, 80 is not bad. I mean, sure, it’s still 50km slower than the max, but it’s not 60 and it’s not 40. Compare that to when I travel back to Australia and grit my teeth in frustration crawling 40 through a roadwork zone where there’s plenty of room and no one working…
But they often don’t close lanes
With the amount of traffic on the Autobahn, closing lanes can mean major delays. So if they don’t have to, they don’t close lanes. They just work on one side first, move the traffic over to the other side, and squish the lanes. The right lane is generally a bit wider, for trucks, and the left is for passing (cars only) and is narrower. The first few years I was terrified to pass trucks in roadwork zones because I was sure I was going to sideswipe something. I didn’t, and now I’m all good.
They take it very seriously
Probably because of how good the road surface has to be to cater for traffic at such high speeds, they seem to take their roadworks very seriously. Occasionally they’ll do a basic resurfacing of one part or another, but more often, it’s a massive project, encompassing all kinds of trucks and machines. And they don’t hide it, which means you can see the progress as it happens.
But then they’ll remove it at end of day
For the smaller works, they won’t annoy people by leaving the witches hats blocking lanes overnight. Nope, they’ll remove them, open the road back up, and then put it down again the next day. So thoughtful.
It’s also super polite
They tell you what’s going on – a section of the Autobahn recently had a sign that indicated they were ‘working under the road’. Which is totally cool – because it means you don’t get frustrated that there’s nothing going on and no one’s in sight and you still have to reduce your speed and go down to one lane.
But the serious roadworks can take a long time
Most roadworks are over pretty quickly, it seems, a few months… but occasionally they’ll throw out a doozy and put up a sign that says the roadworks are not going to be finished for a year or two. It’s annoying at the start, but you get used to it and you’re super glad when the road finally opens again.
Tunnels are one of the things that tend to take a long time. All traffic must be diverted onto the other side of the road and then they do the work in two parts – one after the other. You have to be careful when a tunnel is being worked on, because often they’ll close them completely overnight. And if you’re stuck working late, like I have been a couple of times, it’s 2.5 hours home instead of the standard one.
Summer is time for shut down
Unlike in Oz, where they tend to use holiday periods as a chance to get roadworks done while there’s no work traffic, in Austria, it’s the other way round. Due to the sheer amount of traffic in the summer months journeying to Italy or Croatia, roadworks can cause huge delays. So quite often, they pack up for summer, and start again in Autumn. I don’t know if it’s only for the traffic or if they’re just on holidays, but it works for me.
They use the cutest signs ever
And if you do get irritated at the traffic build-up, the slow speeds or the length of time your roadwork is going to take to be completed, Austria has the cutest little roadwork signs to make you smile. Adorable signs telling you there’s only 2km to go and so on… with happy little witches hat characters. It certainly makes me feel better!
And in the end, even if I do get annoyed sometimes, in the end I’m just glad that they are taking care of me, taking care of the roads and keeping everyone safe.