PPRS 2015 Closing Speech by Jean-Francois Corte

This first edition of the Pavement Preservation and Recycling Summit-BROKEN LINK allowed us to set the stage. It confirmed:

  1. Preserving our road networks is a truly international concern shared throughout the world. We heard from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe;
  2. There is convergence of views about the need for taking action;
  3. A number of initiatives are being taken by road authorities and the road industry as regards new materials, asset management, financing, contracting, etc. Experience sharing and benchmarking, which is what we tried to achieve with this event, is of outstanding value.

PPRS2015 shouldn’t be a one off event. We should collectively build on this investment. Of course it will be the responsibility of the different organizations that made this event possible to define their involvement in future actions. But I am confident you will soon hear about PPRS again.

In my view, there would be large benefits in establishing a continuous action, and not simply replicating a large event every four years, by monitoring the progress on a number of focussed issues. If I were to select one, I would pick communication.

In this room everyone is convinced that preservation of the road transport system is a necessity for a sustainable development. But first we have to convince the general public, the media and the politicians. This is not a voice for a road lobby, but indeed for the benefit of our communities and our economies. Our ability to communicate has a direct impact on decision-making, not only regarding allocation of budget, but also acceptance of funding schemes, and acceptance of new or rehabilitation projects.

As stressed this morning by one of our speakers from South Africa, Alek van Niekirk: we have to make a social issue of transport.

For example, saving one hour in road transport daily not only means saving a few Euros of the driver’s time, it is also one hour people can enjoy with their family with their children or for a longer night sleep. It is a benefit for the individual and a greater benefit for the whole family.

Let us re-examine the way we are communicating.

Another personal view I’d like to share with you. The natural tendency is to focus our attention on main roads, highways or motorways. Local roads should be placed higher on the agenda. This is where the backlog is the largest. Remember the examples from the newspapers shown during my opening speech. Local roads are of interest for everyone, not just car drivers but also pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users; all of them experience daily the deficiencies in road maintenance.

Before ending this speech and closing the congress, I would like to bring to the stage the two persons who worked intensively and very closely with me over the last few months in preparing this congress: Jean-Claude Roffé and Etienne Lebouteiller.

Finally, we started with music: we drove along “Route 66” and “Hit the road”. Music provides momentum, so let us close with music. As you return safely home and to business, let’s get “On the road again”.

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