The world’s first toll road, in Italy

When I was a teenager, a vacation to the capital Jakarta was a very anticipated activity. In addition to the many places that can be visited, the trip to get there is also very enjoyable. Pass the winding road in a cool tea plantation and pass through Indonesia’s first “Jagorawi” long, smooth toll road.

When I was an adult, passing through the Jakarta-Merak toll road also became one of my daily activities. To save time, I always pass the toll road to go and get home from the place of work. Our house is close to the western toll gate, one of the gates of the toll road which was inaugurated in 2012. The toll roads that make Sumatra and Java are closer.

My proximity to the toll road still continues today. Although from a distance, every day I looked at the first toll road in the world. The toll road “Autostrada A8” or “Autostrada dei Laghi” which was built in 1924 for the idea of an Italian engineer named Piero Puricelli.

Why is it called the “Autostrada dei Laghi” toll road? Because at the time of construction, this toll road was needed to unite the city of Milan with its closest towns, the cities of Como and Varese. Two tourist areas have beautiful lakes, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore.

Engineer Piero Puricelli was born to the couple Angelo and Carlotta Combi on April 4, 1883 in Milan. Set in the Italian family of influential entrepreneurs, he graduated from the Zurich Polytechnic School in 1905. The title of the nobleman Conte of Lomnago, made him close to the Savoia family and in 1917 he became one of the recipients of the honorary degree of the Italian Empire.

Although in 1923 in Italy the vehicles circulating in the streets of Italy were still few, but Piero Puricelli had another thought. A thought that motor vehicles will have a very important role in the future. And it was born the Brilians ideas, to create highways that could only be skipped by motorised vehicles, without carts, bicycles and pedestrians and the obligation to pay to cover the costs of construction and highway management.

After obtaining permission from the ruling government at the time, the idea of the first modern highway was revealed within 15 months. On September 21, 1924, the first part of the Milan-Varese motorway was inaugurated in the town of Lainate, as well as the first toll road in the world. Ribbon cuts were carried out by King Vittoria Emanuele III accompanied by Piero Puricelli, followed by a convoy of vehicles with guests and journalists.

In its first few years, the Milan-Varese-Como toll road does not yet have a dedicated payment counter. Some of the officers in uniform will stand in front of the gate and give respect to each vehicle that goes in the toll road. Once the vehicle has stopped, the officer will pick up the payment according to the prescribed rate.

The toll road is also not open for 24 hours, starting at 06.00 am and closes at 01.00 early in the morning. Similarly, the road path has only two lanes and one path for each direction.

But over time, 17 payment counters were then constructed in conjunction with construction of 100 km of the next connecting toll road. Some new toll roads also began to be built in some parts of Italy. Many technicians from different countries began arriving in Lainate town. They want to learn it, then make toll roads in their respective countries.

In the Thirties, Piero Puricelli began to penetrate into neighboring countries. Together with his team, he was able to demonstrate his ability to build toll roads in Germany. At once try the new method using paving from a concrete slab. Unfortunately, the construction of the 17,000 km toll road in Europe could not be solved due to the outbreak of World War II.

At the same time, Piero Puricelli with Arturo Mercanti, the director of the Automobile Club of Milan and engineer Alfredo Rosselli co-constructed a car circuit arena “Autodromo at Monza. The construction of the the began in late January 1922 and was completed in a short time. The circuit they built was unveiled on 28 July 1922, including the third largest circuit in the world after Indianapolis in the United States and Brooklands in the United Kingdom.

Throughout his life, in addition to leading his company, many activities he has done. Two honorary titles on his fifth, first of the Milan Polytechnic University in 1927 and the second of the Berlin Polytechnic University in 1938. Engineer Piero Puricelli died in Milan on 8 May 1951 and was recalled as “Papa” of the toll road due to his extraordinary ideas and work.

Today Autostrada dei Laghi as the “mother of all highways” has a very important function. It is one of the high traffic supporting toll roads that lead to the city of Milan or vice versa. It was one of the routes crossed by most vehicles transporting goods from Italy to northern Europe. It is also one of the toll roads connected to Milan’s Malpensa airport and to Milan’s exhibition Center (Rhofiera).

As for the entire toll road in Italy, everything is managed by Autostrade per L’italia S.p.A. Italian company engaged in the infrastructure and construction of air airports. The company, founded in 2002, is part of the Atlantia group and the Benetton family as the main shareholder.

Now almost all countries around the world have toll roads, roads that connect connecting, crossing city boundaries and country borders. The path that can inspire the development of technology, economy and business. The path that has contributed much to the changing times and developments is happening. Although to enjoy it, we have to pay, like the initial idea that created it. But it can not be denied, toll roads still provide many benefits for all of us. Arrivederci

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