The mission of the new Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport (MIT) can be summed up in a single sentence : “Italy does not need big or small projects, but useful ones”.
Projects which may be useful to the growth of the Country, to a modern and efficient logistics, to a swift, safe, clean, easy and widespread mobility as well as to the renovation and good life quality of urban agglomerates. Projects able to enhance the protection and land management activities of the territory.
Projects, therefore, which are also of benefit to citizens in order to cancel the bad habit of imposing on communities the construction of big infrastructures, which were mostly of interest to those who designed or implemented them.
A few kilometres of roads or railways may be enough to connect a port or an airport never connected before, with the national and European transport networks: it is the key concept of the “last mile”, that is, the last link section which is often lacking to make the infrastructure effectively well-functioning.
A waterway equipped with modern landing points is far enough to transport goods along the European Corridors in a cost-effective , fast, non-polluting way.
We need only to invest in a good and targeted way in order to upgrade, modernize and restore already existing motorway and road networks, which is one of the most widespread network in Europe.
That’s why the first action carried out by the New MIT was a drastic revision of the major projects list which will receive public funding, submitting the other projects to an assessment of costs and potential benefits: unnecessary projects must be cancelled, huge projects need to be re-evaluated, useful projects are saved but must be programmed together with Local Authorities .
Once the choices are made, it is then essential to move quickly and efficiently, maintaining a strict order: without delays, reducing down times and the slowness of procedures, but above all, completing what it was already started instead of leaving works interrupted halfway, which it has unfortunately often been the case. Apart from and along with waste and corruption , the great evil of Italian Infrastructures is the fact that the time needed for the implementation of public projects is abnormal.
#Utility combined with order, is the first of the ten key words which help to get the strategy of the New MIT: on the basis of these, the whole transport and infrastructure policy will be revised, the Ministry will be reorganized, the relations and the planning agreements with the supervised entities Anas (Italian National Roads Authority) and Rfi (Italian Railway Network) redefined.
The second key word for the new MIT strategy is #simplification.
There should be no need to use special procedures - which are often dangerous - to speed up the decision-making and execution processes which instead can and must follow normal procedure, which are more democratic and transparent and therefore necessarily reducing their bureaucratic burden.
It is with this view that the Code of Public Procurements has been reformed, it will make building site activities faster, making the procedures for assigning public work contracts more transparent, for the benefit of serious companies and at the expense of tricky ones. With this goal it has been established a new relation with Local Authorities and it is for that reason that the old Mission Technical Structure, - which within the MIT had taken all the powers over, performing not only planning, assessment activities, but also enforcement ones- , has been replaced by a new body, more simple , responsible for strategies, restoring to the Ministry’s -Directorates General their responsibilities in performing ordinary administration activities.
The third key word is #involvement of local communities and citizens, which implies and requires major data transparency, sharing of knowledge and participation in decision-making processes.
The territory needs to be involved and co-responsible for the choices that directly affect it and which directly impact on its area. The aim is to achieve a true and proper public debate , a regular and systematic consultation and co-decision procedures within fixed timeframe, at the expiry of which all the actors involved are responsible for the fast implementation of the decisions taken.
An enhanced action of transparency as well as sharing information, are an essential factor in promoting control activities and a greater public participation.
For this reason among the first initiatives promoted by the New MIT there is the opening of the web-sites opencantieri.mit.gov.it and data.mit.gov.it: now it is possible for everyone to monitor, in real time, the state of progress of the major public projects as well as the funding state of the art and the effective working hours used for their realization. The complete and updated registry of the unfinished projects of national interest is now on-line.
The best action against corruption and the lack of transparency is not so much based on ex post control - that is indeed also carried out and encouraged through a positive and continuous relationship with Anac (Anti-Corruption National Authority) - but rather in ensuring full accessibility to data on which the Government choices are taken.
The fourth key word of MIT is #sustainability.
We need to overcome the time in which infrastructures impact negatively, spoil and radically change the territory. Italian landscape is the first national asset and it is of the utmost importance that modern transport and public service networks shape the land, instead of ignoring or still worse, destroying it.
This applies to both rural and urban areas, with obvious implications for mobility criteria. This means not only high-speed and high-capacity railway service. The railway option can also be applied to historical city centres (trams, underground); the renewal and maintenance of the rolling stock running on railways and roads, giving priority to fuel-efficient vehicles, should primarily involve freight transport and local public transport services.
The sustainability is the rule to be applied to any action in any field. And it does work! The ecobonus granted for ecological maintenance works in private homes is a measure widely welcomed, boosting the creation of new jobs in the green economy sector.
The cycling transport routes, form an integral part of the MIT Strategy, not an ecological show but rather an important transport option to urban mobility, as a tool for the re-appropriation of territory by citizens, and as important option to be offered to tourists also for long-distance journeys (GRAB, Venice-Turin Cycle-route).
The fifth key word is #maintenance
This first applies to infrastructure networks which have been left deteriorating over time. The mandate given to ANAS and RFI is to dedicate resources and energy to rehabilitate existing infrastructures that are necessary but deteriorated: there is no need to build new infrastructures if a good maintenance or technological innovations may render those already existing more efficient and modern.
The priority given to the renovation of existing infrastructure is also the new approach to the other issue, which falls institutionally within the competence of MIT: the management of the public building and housing assets
The new demographic reality of the Country does not require further land use or further expansion of new residential areas. Public investments should aim at promoting urban regeneration as well as the rehabilitation of degraded urban areas, along with the re-use of what already existing city centres and in peripheral areas, the requalification of school buildings as centres of social life; and housing assets provided as a priority to those who are in greatest need: low-income families, young couples, young students and workers.
The sixth key word is #integration.
Each of these actions – small, medium, large, infrastructural projects or housing works , carried out in urban centres or in rural areas, on land or in water, - impacts with the other projects on the growth capacity and the quality of life of each single community. Therefore these works should not be thought or carried out as projects “apart”, but rather on the basis of a holistic approach: a path and a cycle route serve the underground, which serves a train, which serves an airport or a seaport.
Only in this way it will be possible to overcome the harsh reality of the “Cathedrals in the desert”, viaducts overlooking nothing, piers left to themselves, local railways left in degraded conditions.
MIT attention, in particular, is focused on the Port and Logistics Plan which will restore to Italian Ports their proper role, recognized by Europe, as strategic hubs for Mediterranean maritime traffics, crucial lever for the economic growth of entire regions and not only of the individual maritime cities, thanks to the holistic approach that leads us to unify the authorities nearer to one another.
Our growth opportunities are based on Italian sea routes : 20 per cent of the world’s maritime transport passes through the Mediterranean basin, and in particular 13 per cent of the goods maritime traffic and 41 million passengers (20 per cent of the EU total) of which, more than 10 million cruise passengers, pass through Italy.
For this reason, Italy needs a good “railway option ” as well as a “water option” : shifting as much as the current National freight traffic to sea routes .
The seventh key word is #safety.
A great Italian emergency is to ensure land protection as a whole and in particular in some areas.
The crucial issue related to this is the maintenance and renovation of the existing infrastructure, actions which are not only based on economic reasons or environmental sustainability, but are useful in order to bring Italian road, motorway and railway networks at acceptable safety standards, overcoming the current tragic reality of a degraded state, upheaval, dangerousness in many areas of our Country .
From this point of view it will be crucial to provide the Italian Infrastructures with the best and most advanced technologies. Remote control of Infrastructure conditions, assistance and services supplied to travellers, logistics operations carried out in ports and customs vehicle inspection areas: many are the advantages provided by modern digital instrumentations.
In the same context, the strong and traditional activities carried out by MIT in the field of road safety and accident prevention should be developed and updated to mobility dimensions. Statistics highlight that the victims of road accidents are mainly and increasingly included among the so-called weaker road users, that is, pedestrians and cyclists. The Highway Code, measures aimed at reducing the risks of accidents, design and construction criteria of vehicles, should take into the due consideration this emergency.
A reason of pride of MIT which requires continuous investments are the surveillance and safety activities at sea, ensured by the Seafarers and the Coastguards .
The eighth keyword of the new MIT is #railways.
The best option for the passengers and goods transport by rail has now been taken for good , and involves all the strategic decisions on infrastructures to be recovered, enhanced, and financed. It is a choice of civilization, even before a choice of efficiency and convenience, in order to deliver a cleaner and less polluted environment to the next generations. It is an essential issue for urban areas. Nowadays a big underground transports as many passengers as a high speed railway line; therefore, local public rail transport deserves the same priority assigned to the re-opening e of the blocked building sites and to the speeding up of a number of works, which have often been announced and not even started.
Italy must indeed plan a more extensive high speed and high capacity system. To this end the actions to complete the difficult work of the Apennine section and of the already existing and efficient lines between Milan and Venice in the Po Valley are crucial. But it is in the South that the main effort should be made.
For this reason the ninth keyword of the new MIT strategy is #South.
It is in the South that the game for the competitiveness of the entire Country is played , but efforts in the Southern Regions have, in addition to economic value, a deep meaning of justice and national cohesion.
For this reason the most urgent and useful works along the main railway lines have been selected:
Naples-Bari high-speed line the speeding up of the Tyrrhenian backbone and the Adriatic backbone to Lecce, and between Salerno and Reggio Calabria; a speed line connecting Palermo, Catania and Messina waited for decades. However, actions are needed on the entire rail network, to restore local routes which are too often affected by hydrogeological instability, inefficiency and obsolescence of trains.
The same can be said for the road and highway network, with particular attention to the closure of the eternal construction site of the Salerno-Reggio Calabria and the restoring and strengthening of the Palermo-Catania highways.
In conclusion, the tenth keyword of the new MIT is #Europe.
With great effort, after years of difficulties and mistrust, we have regained credibility in the European Union, reaching the preliminary goal of the confirmation of the important investment projects involving Italy and, in particular, the South.
The European transport strategy is focused on nine transnational corridors and is called Ten-T. Italy is crossed by four of these corridors: the Baltic-Adriatic (up to Trieste), the Mediterranean (in Italy, from Turin to Trieste), the Scandinavian-Mediterranean (entering from the Brenner Pass, to Augusta) and the Rhine-Alpes (from Genoa to the North sea ports).
This is the future, this is the connection between our Country - its ports, its cities, its production areas, its logistics system - and the largest economic and commercial capital network of the continent.
European and Italian investments are devoted to these high-speed, high capacity and high technology connections , which also affect a large number of related projects: each multimodal axis is connected to national and regional networks whose efficiency is essential in an integrated vision of the infrastructure.
The same is valid for PON Infrastructure and Networks, the great European project that allows to invest 1.8 billion euro - additional to national funding - on rail services in Southern Italy, with particular attention to connections with ports and airports: the famous "last mile". The last mile is what is lacking to Italy to catch up with the more advanced Countries so to play the rightful role in the great global competition.