Conurbation Transport Projects: Strategies and Priorities in the Use of Existing Networks

Special Report: Transportation Policies and Territorial Planning
By Hélène Reigner, Frédérique Hernandez


The outlook adopted here has enabled us to pose the question of the “breakdown of problematization” (Offner, 2006) in the area of local transportation and travel policies. The focus is on the non-explicitness, among conurbations, concerning the globality of their projects, their strategies and their priorities.
Indeed, placed side-by-side, the mapping, which seems sparse at first glance, of many projects put forward by the representatives of conurbations (Aix-en-Provence, Aubagne and Grenoble) gives rise to a consistent, though implicit, model of travel organisation. This generic model of the organisation of traffic enables conurbations seeking attractiveness to combine accessibility and protection vis-à-vis the automobile on their own scale.
Conurbations are, however, only partially masters of the networks that cross and structure their territory. The concretisation of this generic model runs up against other representations of the territory, and therefore other representations of how the networks are used, brought forward by other actors acting on other scales. Thus, the central, though implicit, challenge for the representatives of the conurbations consists in constructing a representation of the city and the transportation networks it is home to, which pushes the managers of motorway-type networks toward an urban evolution in the use of this network. While doing this, these roads can be used to concretise the urban projects of the conurbations.
Rather than explaining their projects and their implications at different scales, with the risk of entering into full-frontal conflict with the other network managers, notably the State, the conurbations are developing strategies, project by project, to “divert” the use of networks that they do not manage.
In all, adopting a comprehensive method for understanding the point of view of the conurbations leads to relativising the critiques of transportation and travel policies in terms of the deficit of problematization and the ineffectiveness of procedures.
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