History of the Naples ring road: the artery that changed the city's mobility

by Leonardo Quagliuolo

Serpeggiante between the hills of Naples, with its many curves and tunnels, the ring road of Naples is a daily point of passage for many drivers, who move to or from Naples at all hours of the day. It crosses the entire city, from its eastern to its western suburbs and, with its twenty-one kilometers in length, is one of the largest urban highways in Italy.

The first "tangential" of Naples

The current Corso Vittorio Emanuele was the first example of a street born with the intent to connect the two opposite poles of Naples, as well as the most central districts of the city. Born with the name of Maria Teresa Course during the reign of the Bourbons, with its four and a half kilometers, connects the historical center with Mergellina and, with its numerous traverses, is connected with the Vomero and with the Spanish Quarters. Given its numerous connections and the long stretch of city covered, it is still today, a fundamental artery of Neapolitan automobile traffic, although certainly not a fast-flowing one, as would have been the real Naples Ring Road, built more than a century later.

Early works

January 31st 1968 work began for the construction of the first section of the Naples ring road, which took the name A56. The new road axis went from Domitiana to Fuorigrotta, which saw the conclusion of the works only in July 1972.

Just one year later, the connection with via Cilea was also completed, in one of the few points without buildings of the street, only after many expropriations of the underlying country lands, some of which today still host small private cultivations. Also in 1973, the works of the connection with the hill of the Camaldoli.

History of the Naples ring road: the artery that changed the city's mobility
Section of the ring road under construction, near the Camaldoli junction, 1960s.

Only two years later, in 1975, the entrances and exits of the Naples ring road were built near Via Giacinto Gigante, at Arenella and also at Capodichino, not far from theAirport. Finally, between 1976 and 1977, the Corso Malta and Capodimonte junctions were opened.

The Corso Malta exit, in particular, involved the creation of massive ramps that pass through buildings and are supported by very tall pillars. For its construction, it was necessary the expropriation and demolition of several buildings. Since the '90s, it is the junction that leads directly to the streets below the Directional Center, the first example of agglomeration of skyscrapers in Italy, one of the first in Europe, as well as one of the largest, at the time of its construction in 1995.

History of the Naples ring road: the artery that changed the city's mobility
Capodichino ring road under construction

Unfinished works

In the 1980s, with the number of automobiles ever increasing in Naples, the City attempted to create a bridge connecting the steep, narrow via San Giacomo dei Capri, which is located on the outskirts of High DistrictIt would have been connected to the wider Via Gabriele Iannelli, which had been connected to the ring road for a decade. This element would not have been part of the Naples ring road, however it would have simplified the access to the latter, allowing to shorten the route to be covered on via Iannelli.

The works did not go smoothly as hoped: only a short stretch of the new bridge was built, isolated and suspended on a narrow segment of the hill. It is possible that the reason for the Abrupt interruption of work is that this bridge would be pass through homes in a residential parkwhose construction had already been completed for a long time. It would not have been easy to make further expropriations, nor to continue the construction in alternative ways, if any, given the exorbitant costs that this intervention would have involved.

Therefore, today there is a suspended and isolated bridge in the middle of a private park, completely abandoned and recently transennaded because it is unsafe. Hasn't been shot down yet since even an abatement would be very expensive, due to its particular location and the impressiveness of the structure.

The latest interventions

Only in the '90s the works for the construction of other connections of the Naples ring road with other areas of the city resumed: the exits of the Hospital Area were inaugurated in 1992.

Naples ring road colli aminei
Viale Colli Aminei before the construction of the ring road exit, 1960s

The first exit leads to the ancient via Cupa Imparato, nowadays unrecognizable compared to its original appearance. It is also cut in two by the entrance of the garage adjacent to the subway station line 1 "Colli Aminei". The street houses, moreover, the characteristic "Torre Caselli", a villa now under renovation after years of neglect.

Another exit, instead, passes in front of one of the last buildings constructed in the Cardarelli Hospital complex, and then enters via Cardarelli.

The third and last, finally, comes out on viale Colli Aminei, not far from the other two.

There has long been talk of a project for a new entrance to the Tangenziale (ring road) from the upper part of Viale Colli Aminei, so that there is not only the Capodimonte entrance, which is far from the hospital area and could be impractical for those at the top of the hill. However, to date, there is no plan for its construction.

Today, the Naples ring road covers a length of twenty-one kilometers, with fourteen junctions and, every day, speeds up otherwise long and busy routes for many inhabitants of Naples and surrounding cities.

-Leonardo Quagliuolo

For more:

Naples ring road

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