In Savoie, road damage caused by climate change is becoming more and more expensive

Landslides, torrential rains accompanied by floods, mudslides and landslides… Savoie is used, like all mountain areas, to these events often causing significant material damage on its roads. “When the mountain gets angry, there’s not much you can do”remarks Auguste Picollet, former departmental advisor to the roads commission for forty-one years, who insists on vigilance and prevention.

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Recently, however, these disasters have been particularly intense: during the La Praz landslide, which occurred on August 27, 2023 in Maurienne, 15,000 cubic meters of cliff collapsed onto a railway line, a departmental road and a highway . What followed was a very rainy autumn and the start of winter, also marked by their share of damage, more frequent than in the past due to climatic disorder. This raises the concern of the departmental council, which today manages a road network of 3,143 kilometers.

“This is the first time that we have had so much rain in such a short time. In recent months, our entire territory has been affected by events, most of them unpredictable”, describes Olivier Thévenet (various right), vice-president of the council responsible for infrastructure. And the bill promises to be high, with an additional budget to be adopted by the departmental assembly in June, and the emergency investment fund of 2.1 million euros having already been completely consumed over 2023 and 2024, specifies the chosen one. For the events of November and December 2023 alone, 12 million euros were initially announced for the necessary work, before a revaluation to 15.9 million euros.

“Human capacity issues”

After the landslide of August 2023 in Maurienne, the project to secure the cliff was, at this stage, estimated at three million euros, to which the department must add 600,000 euros to make the only road axis open – adjacent highway – free for local uses. Once this project is completed, others will be carried out by SNCF Réseau on the gallery and the railway line, a priori until November. Then the department’s services will tackle the departmental road at the start of 2025. Work planned elsewhere on the network in 2024 will be postponed “for financial problems but also human capacities”the number of teams being limited, underlines Olivier Thévenet.

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