One of EU’s outermost regions receiving transport boost

An important section of Reunion Island’s road network is being upgraded, bringing improvements to the lives of residents while respecting the unique infrastructure of the region.

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Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean is a French region that is home to about 800 000 people. It is 63 kilometres long and 45 kilometres wide and it is one of the outermost regions of the European Union. Due to the island’s beautiful and fragile environment, this project requires a great degree of care. Priority is given to environmental considerations when working in this complex landscape. The road in question, Route des Tamarins, was originally constructed in 1987 and is a 2x2 lane route connecting the south (le Tampon – Saint-Pierre) and the east (Saint-Benoit) via Saint Denis. The road is part of the long-term development programme (known as PALT) for the island’s national road network.

Minimising consequences for the surrounding areas

The island is famous for the variety of its landscape. Preserving the environment is therefore a priority in implementing this project. The goal of this project is to enable the transport infrastructure to be integrated into the region taking account of its ecology, heritage, resources, pollution and security. Given the ecological diversity of the island, many environmental factors need to be taken into account such as protecting the areas around the ravines and the sensitive lagoon areas.

Also, there are areas downstream of the road where some of the population’s water supply comes from and this obviously needs to be free from any contamination. The route also passes near residential areas so the quality of life of residents there must not be adversely affected. Significant climatic factors also require serious consideration. In all, the Route des Tamarins passes through five distinct geographical zones each presenting unique challenges – forests, ravines, agricultural land and delicate flora and fauna to mention but a few. Finally, local stakeholders in the project are committed to the policy of creating sustainable infrastructure.

Tourists and locals to gain

The main aims of this project are to ensure comfort and safety for people travelling the route, to reduce travel times and to protect the environment. Travel between the main population centres of Saint-Pierre, Saint-Benoit and Saint Denis are greatly improved and traffic blockages reduced. This should also have a positive effect on the environment through reduced emissions. 35 jobs are expected to be created after the project’s implementation.

The West Highlands also becomes more accessible as existing local roads connect to the Route des Tamarins which are beneficial to both locals and tourists. This area of the island is famous for its beautiful hiking routes, white water sports, canyoning and lush growth. Tourism is the major industry on the island so any boost to tourism is a boost to the local economy.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Route des Tamarins (2nd phase)” is EUR 1 091 000 000 with the EU’s Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 114 378 201 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The project is funded through the priority “Competitiveness of the territory: Organising the island's territory on the basis of new performance parameters” of the Operational Programme “Réunion”.

Draft date