Transport in Portugal

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Transport in Portugal is well-developed and diversified. Portugal has a 68,732 km (42,708 mi) network of roads, of which almost 3,000 km (1,864 mi) are part of a 44 motorways system. Brisa is the largest highway management concessionaire. With 89,015 km², Continental Portugal has 3 international airports located near Lisbon, Porto and Faro. The national railway system service is provided by Comboios de Portugal. The major seaports are located in Leixões, Aveiro, Figueira da Foz, Lisbon, Setúbal, Sines and Faro.

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Roads

In 1972, Brisa was established under the Estado Novo dictatorship. Brisa was first formed under Portugal's Estado Novo right wing regime in the early 1970s because at the time, the country's transportation system was inadequate to support a fast growing economy; some towns were linked by ancient dirt roads and there was no means for fast, efficient transport of goods. On September 28, 1972 a public deed established Brisa and granted the company a 30-year concession to design, build, manage, and maintain express motorways. In the initial stage of the plan, Brisa was to construct 390 km (242 mi) of roadways by the end of 1981. The first priority was a highway designated as A1, a 300 km (186 mi) stretch reaching from the capital of Lisbon north to Porto, Portugal's second-largest city. This highway would become a crucial link to the industrial activity in the north of the country and experience the highest traffic volumes in Brisa's network. Construction also began on the A2, which was projected to reach from Lisbon to resort areas on the southern coast.

Two years after the establishment of Brisa, the right wing dictatorship was overthrown by a leftist revolution. The new regime included Brisa in a program of nationalization, first taking control of 40 percent of the company and eventually gaining a 90 percent share. Road construction continued stretch by stretch under socialist control. As the first highway sections were completed on the A1 and A2, the government concession was expanded to include adjoining stretches. In addition, concessions were granted for expansions to the network: the A3 would extend the north-south highway from Porto up to the Spanish border, the A4 would reach east from Porto to the city of Amarante, and the A5 was to reach from Lisbon about 25 mi (40 km) west to the coast. However, during the first years of democratic government, the combined length of the network never exceeded 300 km (186 mi) through the 1980s. Transportation was seen as a priority in the 1990s, pushed by the growing use of automobiles and mass consumption.

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