The safety of the world’s most southern and starkly beautiful roads is under the spotlight with an iRAP assessment underway by the Ministry of Public Works and DDQ Engineering Consultants in the picturesque and mountainous Magallanes, Aysén and Los Lagos Regions of Chile.
The study will assess the safety of 53 roads totalling 1,907km across the three regions according to the iRAP Methodology and propose prioritised Safer Roads Investment Plans to eliminate high-risk road sections to save lives and reduce serious injuries due to road crashes.
The iRAP Star Ratings results will be compared to road crash statistics for the last five years on each route of the network.
Twenty road safety engineers and practitioners from the Road Directorate will be trained to build their capacity for ongoing works.
The network under study will include 23 roads totally 952km in Magallanes Region, 22 roads totalling 531km in the Aysén Region and 8 roads totalling 423km in the Los Lagos Region.
The most southerly Magallanes Region encompasses mountainous peaks and glaciers reaching to Cape Horn. Despite being the largest region, much of the land is isolated and rugged, categorised by low temperatures, strong winds and sheep farming. The majority of the population live in the capital Punta Arenas, a major market city and one of the main hubs for Antarctic exploration. The assessment in Magallanes extends to roads on Navarino Island – an island located between Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, to the north, and Cape Horn, to the south. The island forms part of the Commune of Cabo de Hornos, the southernmost commune in Chile and in the world.
The middle Aysén Region is Chile’s most sparsely populated. The landscape is marked by glaciations that have formed lakes, fjords and the Patagonian Ice Fields. The topography varies from a north-south string of volcanoes, to densely vegetated and mountainous conditions in the west, to open rolling grasslands in the east.
The Los Lagos (Lakes) Region in the north is the centre for aquaculture in Chile with an economy dominated by the tourism and service sector, as well as fishing, salmon, forestry and cattle farming.
The iRAP assessment will take in sections of Chile’s Route 7, a major connection highway and one of the country’s most challenging, yet wildly beautiful road trips.
Magallanes Region roads to be assessed
Los Lagos Region roads to be assessed
Aysén Region roads to be assessed
Images source: Mateusz Walendzik, Pexels (lead image), Wikipedia and DDQ.