Algeria Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Algeria has a fairly dense road network in the north of the country. There are hardly any roads in the center and south of the country, and almost no paved roads at all. Algeria has one of the largest highway networks in Africa.

Motorways

Motorways in Algeria
A1 – Autoroute Est-Ouest • Autoroute Nord-Sud • Autoroute des Hauts Plateaux • Autoroute Algiers-Tizi Ouzou • Autoroute Tizi Ouzou-Bouira • Autoroute Thenia-Lakhdaria • Autoroute Oran-Arzew • Autoroute Batna-Ain Touta • Autoroute Annaba-BerrahalRocade Nord (Algiers) • Rocade Est (Algiers) • Rocade Sud (Algiers) • 2nd Rocade Sud (Algiers) • Rocade Ouest (Algiers) • Rocade Sud (Constantine) • Rocade Est (Constantine) • Rocade Sud (Oran) • Pénétrante the Mascara • Pénétrante de Mostaganem • Pénétrante Sud (Oran) • Pénétrante Sud (Annaba) • Pénétrante de Béjaïa • Pénétrante de Bouinan • Pénétrante Bouira – Sour El Ghozlane

Motorways are mainly found around the major cities, especially around the capital Algiers there is a fairly extensive network of motorways. The highway network was about 1,680 kilometers long in 2000, but new highways are under constant construction, often built by Asian (Japanese and Chinese) companies. The world’s largest road construction project, the 1,216-kilometre east-west highway from the Moroccan border to the Tunisian border, has been underway since 2006 and will have 2×3 lanes along its entire length. Parts of this highway have been completed since 2008. Only the Algiers region has a significant highway network. Most other major cities have shorter highways or bypasses.

History

The first highway in Algeria was completed in 1985, the Rocade Nord in Algiers over 16 kilometers. Also in 1985, a short bypass of Annaba was opened. In 1986 a 63 kilometer long section from Algiers to the east followed. In 1988, two more short highways were completed in Algiers, including a connection to the airport. In 1988, a 30-kilometer highway from Oran to Arzew was also opened, and a 35-kilometer bypass from Constantine.

Construction continued into the 1990s, especially in the region around Algiers. In 1990 the east-west highway from Algiers to Tizi Ouzou was extended for 38 kilometers, and also opened 33 kilometers between Birkhadem and Blida that year. The 1990s were turbulent years for Algeria, so investment was low and highway construction was on the back burner. The most significant opening was Algiers’ 46-kilometer southern bypass in 1996. In 1997, a 30-kilometer highway between Batna and that city’s airport opened. Between 2002 and 2005, several highways around the major cities were extended. East-west axes further inland were also converted into highways. In 2009, Algiers’ second southern bypass opened over 61 kilometers. New motorways have been built on a large scale since 2007.

Future

By far the most important project is the construction of the east-west highway, which should run from the border with Morocco via Tlemcen, Chlef, Algiers, Sétif, Constantine and Annaba to the border with Tunisia. This project should be completed in 2018 over 1216 kilometers. In addition, the Autoroute des Hauts Plateaux is planned, a second east-west route through Algeria.

When completed, Algeria’s highway network will be some 2,700 kilometers long. Newer highways are more modern than older highways that sometimes have tight connections in urban areas and lack of emergency lanes. Most highways around Algiers have 2×3 lanes, with peaks up to 2×5 lanes.

Route National

Algeria’s main road network consists of Route Nationales. This network is fairly close to the north, with all major cities connected at least by Route Nationales. The RN1 is the Trans-Sahara Highway and is paved as far as Tamanrasset, about 360 kilometers as the crow flies before the border with Niger. The rest of the route is a dirt road that can only be driven by jeeps and all-terrain vehicles. The border crossing with Niger is a dirt road. In general, south of the Atlas Mountains, only a few routes are paved. A number of remote places, such as Tindouf in the border area with Mauritania and Western Sahara, are still accessible via paved roads. There are no paved roads to the borders with Mali, Mauritania and Niger, but with Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.

Route Nationales in Algeria

History

In the 19th century, Algeria was an integral part of France, and was administered as three départements from 1848. Unlike other French colonies, Algeria was considered part of France and not a colony. The original French Algeria included only the northern third of Algeria, the Sahara being largely ungoverned territory. Present-day Algeria came under French rule only in 1934 and from 1956 completely under French rule. From 1902 the center and south was governed as the ‘Territoires du Sud’ and was a territory, not a department.

National routes were established in Algeria in 1864. Originally these were 5 routes nationales, the N1 Alger – In Guezzam, the N2 Oran – Tlemcen, the N3 Skikda – Djanet, the N4 Boufarik – Oran and the N5 Alger – Constantine. It is unclear to what extent the routes nationales 1 and 3 ran southwards in the Sahara at the time. In 1879 the network was extended to 10 routes nationales, its length was fixed at 2,994 kilometers in 1906.

In 1935 the network was expanded to 31 national routes with a length of 6,740 kilometers. In 1948 a number of routes were added, so that the total came to 39 routes nationales with a total length of 8,010 kilometers. This remained unchanged for a long time after independence in 1962. A big change came in 1999, when the number of national routes was expanded from 39 to 99 with a length of 25,500 kilometers. In 2010 and 2011, a few more national routes were added to the network.

The N roads were originally simple single carriageways. From the 1990s, the network was expanded in the north, and the first routes were widened to 2×2 lanes. Some new expressways were also built around the largest cities, in particular Algiers and Oran. After 2000, several connections were partly or completely widened to 2×2 lanes. Also, from 2005, the large-scale construction of the A1, the east-west auto route with 2×3 lanes, started from the border with Morocco to the border with Tunisia. This runs largely parallel to the N4, N5 and N7.

Signage

New style signage on the A1.

In the signage, a distinction can be made between old and new signage. The vast majority is old, but the newest highways that have been completed since 2005 have a new (French) style of signage.

Particularly on the older highways, the signage is very simplistic, big blue signs with a few arrows pointing up and destinations in Latin and Arabic script. The Latin script consists of capital letters. Arrows do not always correspond to the actual road situation and markings are often worn away, especially in the cities. Green signs are also used, although the reason for the distinction is not always clear, as road numbers are often not indicated. The road layout is also French. Newer signs have the French font and French arrows pointing down. The newer signage also distinguishes between highway targets (blue) and main targets via Route Nationales (green) and local destinations (white).

Road numbering

Road numbers are regularly indicated along national routes, but are often missing from older signage. Road numbers also appear on kilometer markers.

Borders

The border with Morocco is closed due to the dispute over the Western Sahara. The border with Tunisia is open. In the south, travel is dangerous because of terrorist groups and banditry. Travel in the border areas, in particular Libya, Niger, Mali and Mauritania, is discouraged.

Algeria is accessible from Europe via a number of ferry services, mainly Marseille – Algiers and Alicante – Oran. Traveling through Tunisia is also possible via the Genova – Tunis ferry service.

Algeria Road Network