Slovakia Road Network

By | December 8, 2022

The network of motorways in Slovakia.

The D1 in Bratislava.

Motorways

According to wholevehicles, Slovakia has a fairly dense road network given its mountainous landscape. The motorway network is still quite limited, consisting mainly of the D1 from Bratislava to Košice which is not yet fully completed, and the D2 from the border with Hungary via Bratislava to the border with the Czech Republic. In addition, a D3 is under construction from Žilina to the border with Poland and a short D4 exists from Bratislava to the border with Austria. The road network is reasonably well integrated with the road network of other countries, including three, soon four, highway border crossings. Despite this, Slovakia is not an important transit country. The main east-west axis D1 mainly handles national traffic, only the corridor of the D2 handles some through traffic from the Czech Republic to Hungary. The Hungarian M1 running parallel to the Slovakian border is of much greater importance for transit traffic.

There are plans for a ring road around Bratislava, and the first road widening of a Slovak highway was carried out in 2010 on the D1 between Bratislava and Trnava. Due to the mountainous nature of Slovakia, traveling off the highway takes quite a lot of time. The roads are good, but have differences in height and many bends. Expansion of the motorway network is relatively slow, especially the D1 is gradually getting longer, which is however a long process due to the mountainous nature of the country. Eventually it should be possible to travel from Bratislava to Uzhorod in Ukraineby highway, but the emphasis on the expansion is in the middle of Slovakia. In the future, it also seems that a highway from Košice to Miskolc in Hungary will be built. There are no concrete plans yet for a north-south highway from Kraków to Budapest.

On the motorways, the diaľnica, a maximum speed of 130 km/h applies. In principle, the diaľnica is designed with at least 2×2 lanes, but as a temporary phasing, a half-profile version is also possible, with one lane. Although this dianica is then prepared for 2×2 lanes, the single lane situation can persist for a long time, especially on the D3 from Žilina to the border with Poland.

Expressways

Slovakia has a growing network of expressways, especially in the west and center of the country. This is called a rýchlostná cesta. These can be designed with one lane or with 2×2 lanes, but both variants are grade-separated. The rýchlostná cesta with 2×2 lanes is allowed to drive at 130 km/h, they are hardly distinguishable from the motorways, a situation comparable to that of the Czech Republic until 2015. By far the longest rýchlostná cesta is currently the R1 from Trnava to Banská Bystrica.

Nodes

Slovakia has formally signposted junction names. The names are often the larger places where they are located. The junction symbol has also been applied to the signage since 2016.

Junctions in Slovakia
Bratislava-Jarovce • Bratislava-juh • Bratislava-Nivy • Bratislava-Pečňa • Bratislava-východ • Martin • Nitra-západ • Prešov-západ • Púchov • Rozhanovce • Svrčinovec • Stupava • Trnava • Žilina

Projects

See list of road projects in Slovakia.

Main roads

The urban road network is of increasingly higher quality and increasingly features grade separated intersections for busy intersections. Because the largest Slovak cities are fairly spacious with apartment districts, there is often room for this. The main road network of Slovakia consists of so-called main roads of the first class, with the prefix I/xx, for example the I/2 or I/79. The longest and most important roads are I/18 and I/50 which handle east-west traffic. A fairly large number of main roads are planned to be replaced by R-roads, but this will mainly happen after 2016. The height of a road number says very little about its importance. The I/50 to I/69 are the main roads of Slovakia.

Main roads of the 1st class in Slovakia
I/2 • I/9 • I/10 • I/11 • I/12 • I/13 • I/14 • I/15 • I/16 • I/17 • I/18 • I/19 • I/ 20 • I/21 • I/49 • I/50 • I/51 • I/54 • I/57 • I/59 • I/60 • I/61 • I/62 • I/63 • I/64 • I/65 •I/66 • I/67 • I/68 • I/69 • I/70 • I/71 • I/72 • I/74 • I/75 • I/76 • I/77 • I/78 • I/ 79 • I/80 • I/82

European roads

European roads in Slovakia
E50 • E58 • E65 • E71 • E75 • E77 • E371 • E442 • E571 • E572 • E575

History

The D1 in the Tatras.

The D4 around Bratislava.

History (1918 – 1937)

Until 1918, Slovakia belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The main route of this empire was the connection between Wien (Vienna) and Budapest. When Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakia in 1918, it lacked a good main route connecting the country’s largest cities. After the First World War, the existing roads began to be paved, with the greatest priority being given to western Czechoslovakia, present-day Czechia. The share of paved roads in Slovakia was minimal in the early 1920s. On July 14, 1927, a road fund (cestný fond) was established to finance a road network. car ownershipincreased quite rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s, although it was largely in the Czech Republic. In 1930 there were 9,071 passenger cars in Slovakia. In eastern Ruthenia (later in Ukraine) there were only 758 vehicles, including 381 passenger cars.

Road traffic increased sharply in the 1930s. In the mid-1930s, proposals were made for a backbone through Czechoslovakia, a high-capacity road between Plzeň and Košice, with a length of 700 kilometers. Other proposals envisaged two east-west routes, a northern and southern route, with the latter also opening up the Bratislava region. However, the Czechoslovak government considered the plans superfluous.

Start of the first highway (1937 – 1945)

In 1937 a new proposal was made for a 980 kilometer east-west route from Cheb to Veľký Bočkov, a village on the border with Romania in what was then Ruthenia. This was to reduce the travel time through the republic from 25 to 10 hours. This plan envisaged an economically strong Czechoslovakia with 40 million inhabitants. At that time, the first word for a Czechoslovak highway, the autostráda, also fell. The new road was designed with two lanes of 6 meters wide, with 2×2 lanes and a median strip of 2 meters wide. All intersecting roads would do that on a grade-separated basis. A maximum speed of 80 km/h was foreseen at the time. The road was planned as a toll road, the construction costs of which could be recovered in 33 years.

Construction of this highway began to take shape at the end of 1937. A new law was also introduced in 1938, which determined that traffic in Czechoslovakia drove on the right from 1939. In 1938 Austria joined Nazi Germany and annexed sizable parts of Czechoslovakia, forcing the Czechoslovak government to change the route of the planned highway. In 1938, the definitive term for a Slovak motorway was also introduced, namely the diaľnica. The maximum speed was increased from 80 to 120 km/h. The cross section was also widened from 16 to 21 metres. At the same time, Czechoslovakia was forced by Nazi Germany on a north-south highway, the Strecke 88 from Wrocław (then Breslau) to Wien., which would run through the city of Brno.

In 1939 work started on the east-west highway in the area of ​​Kroměříž in Moravia. In March that year a political crisis arose in which Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic under pressure from Hitler. In 1939 the construction of the east-west highway and the north-south highway started under German supervision, but only in the Czech part, which had meanwhile been annexed by Hitler. Until the Second World War, nothing happened in Slovakia. However, in 1939-1942 some concrete roads were built in Slovakia, which mainly served German interests.

Post-war developments (1945 – 1950)

The fighting between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht in 1944-1945 largely destroyed Slovakia’s infrastructure. Slovakia and the Czech Republic became one country again as Czechoslovakia and in 1945 work began on repairing the war damage, including the east-west highway, which was built in 1939-1940 between Praha and Brno, but was not completed. Czechoslovakia also had to cede the eastern region of Ruthenia to the Soviet Union, as a result of which the planned east-west highway was again shortened to near Uzhhorod.

After the war, car use had fallen sharply and the east-west highway seemed an unnecessary luxury. Nevertheless, the highway was included in the Czechoslovak road plan in 1946. In many places it was nothing more than bridge pillars in the meadows. The communist coup followed in 1948. The highway plan was not immediately canceled by the Soviets, as it ran directly to the Soviet Union. Work was halted in 1949 and plans for the highway were finally buried in 1950.

Communist period (1950 – 1989)

The 1950s were the scene of the most severe communist period. Private car use was not encouraged and the construction of motorways was not a priority for the communist government, which with 5-year plans invested mainly in heavy industry, producing many products regardless of whether there was a demand for it. The road network was paved on a large scale in the 1950s and 1960s, but by the mid-1960s virtually every village in Czechoslovakia could be reached via asphalt roads.

A new Czechoslovak highway plan was drawn up in 1963, with a planned length of 1,707 kilometers and planned to be completed by the end of the 1990s. This was the basis for the current road numbering in the Czech Republic in particular, but also in Slovakia. This concerned the motorways listed below.

# Route Length
D1 Praha – Brno – Trenčin – Žilina – Prešov – Košice – Soviet Union border 711 km
D2 Brno – Bratislava 117 km
D5 Praha – Plzeň – West Germany border 146 km
D8 Praha – Ustí nad Labem – border DDR 99 km
D11 Praha – Hradec Kralové – border Poland 137 km
D35 Hradec Kralové – Lipnik nad Becvou (D47) 180 km
D43 Svitavy – Brno 72 km
D47 Brno – Ostrava – border Poland 141 km
D61 Bratislava – Trencin 104 km

In addition, a secondary network was planned to be ready around 2000, most of these routes were located in Slovakia.

# Route
D3 Praha – České Budějovice – border Austria
D18 Žilina – Český Těšín – border Poland
D52 Brno – Austria border
D65 Bratislava – Rožňava – Kosice
D68 Košice – Hungary border
D73 Prešov – border Poland

In 1966 it was actually decided to build motorways in Czechoslovakia. The first highway to be built was the D1 between Praha and Mirošovice on September 8, 1967. On April 1, 1969, construction began on the D2 in Brno and a few days later on part of the D2 in Slovakia, between Malacky and Bratislava, which thus was the first real highway in Slovakia.

In the 1960s, a large steel factory was built in Košice. To this end, I/50 was constructed over 10 kilometers with 2×2 lanes and grade separated intersections, but has never been classified as a motorway. In 1970, 112 kilometers of highway was under construction in Czechoslovakia. On June 17, 1971, Czechoslovak signage was established in anticipation of the opening of the first highway between Praha and Mirošovice. These standards also applied to the Slovak part of the republic.

In January 1972, the construction of the second highway in the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia began, namely the D61 between Bratislava and Senec. Shortly afterwards, on November 7, 1973, the D2 between Malacky and Bratislava opened as the very first motorway in Slovakia, just over two years after the D1 was opened in the Czech part of the republic. On December 12, 1975, the D61 opened to traffic. During the 1970s, highways were built in various places in Slovakia, including the D1 in the north of the country, east of Ružomberok. In 1978 Slovakia had 115 kilometers of motorway. However, in the late 1970s it also became clear that the planned completion of the network in the 1990s was not feasible.

In the 1980s, highway construction in Slovakia stagnated significantly. Between 1982 and 1988, an additional 68 kilometers of motorway were inaugurated, all sections as part of the D1 or D61. At the end of the communist period, Slovakia had 182.6 kilometers of full-fledged motorway and 7 kilometers of semi-profile highway in 1989. In addition, 62.5 kilometers of the main roads of the first class had been developed to a high standard.

Recent developments (1989 – present)

After the fall of communism in 1989, Czechoslovakia had to transform from a planned economy to a market economy. Slovakia peacefully seceded from Czechoslovakia in 1993, both countries have since been known as the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The next motorway opening was the D61 at Chocholná in 1997, followed by a 7-kilometer stretch of the D1 in northern Slovakia. In 1996 the vignette was introduced as a toll for the Slovak highways. In the 1990s, 32 kilometers of fully-fledged highway were opened, plus 39 kilometers in semi-profile (one lane). All of these openings were in 1997-1998.

After Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, Czechoslovak road numbering was of little use. Therefore, a renumbering was carried out in 1999, with the D61 being renumbered to D1 and the planned numbers renumbered to Slovak numbers, or deleted altogether. However, the road numbering of the main roads of the first class was not changed, Slovakia still has the Czechoslovak numbering for the secondary road network to this day. After 2000, the focus was on completing the D1 between Bratislava and Košice in particular, a process that is expected to be completed by 2024. In 2015, a number of roads in Slovakia were renumbered. Most prominently, the I/50, formerly Slovakia’s longest main road, was completely demolished. Also, the numbering of the I/66,

Major highway openings followed with the Košice bypass in 2019 and the Prešov bypass in 2021. The full commissioning of the D1 in northern Slovakia has taken longer than planned due to difficult terrain and setbacks. It was originally planned that the entire corridor would be ready by 2020, but now it is said that it will be completed in 2024. In 2021 it was also possible for the first time to drive entirely by motorway between Bratislava and Košice, but then via Hungary when the last stretch of the Hungarian M30 opened, which was also significant for Slovakia. Most parts of the D4 around the capital Bratislava also opened in 2021.

Road numbering

The II/127, a road of the second class. Road numbers lower than 400 were previously not found in Slovakia.

The current road numbering in Slovakia is partly still based on the old numbering in Czechoslovakia, this especially applies to the underlying road network. The motorways have now been given a new number, for example, the old D61 has been renumbered to D1 in the west of the country. The numbering of R-roads is new, but already shows some flaws, so a new numbering has been proposed by the NDS (Národná diaľničná spoločnosť).

Because the numbering is still largely based on that of Czechoslovakia before 1993, the height of the number says little about its importance. As a result, the higher numbers are usually more important than the lower ones. In 2003, a number of second class roads were upgraded to first class, which include numbers lower than I/49. Most of these are short, sometimes just a few miles. I/50 is the country’s main and longest route. The I/18 is almost as important as a transit route through northern Slovakia. The other I/51 to I/59 numbers are mainly cross-border connections with the Czech Republic. The I/60 to I/69 are the main roads for traffic within Slovakia. The highest number series from I/70 to I/79 are often roads with a secondary function,

The roads of the second class (Cesty II. triedy) are three digits. Originally these were mainly numbers in the 500 range with a few in the 400 range. The numbering system was zoned during the time of Czechoslovakia and the 500 series was mainly used in Slovakia. Most of these roads are shorter than 50 kilometers, although there are some longer routes. The longest is the II/507, which runs for 220 kilometers from Gabčíkovo on the border with Hungary to Žilina. Lower road numbers have been introduced since 2019, first the II/143 at Malacky and the II/211 at Topoľníky, these routes were not originally second class main road. In 2021, the II/127 was introduced near Bernolákovo, which was newly constructed.

The roads of the third class are administratively numbered with four-digit numbers in which a range is determined per road authority, so that these numbers occur once throughout the country. Before 2015, there was a national numbering system in which the number was based on that of the primary route it connected to, a first or second class road. Since these roads already had three numbers and three more numbers were added, third class roads could have road numbers from 4 to 6 digits. The current road numbering runs from the III/1015 in Bratislava to the III/3896 in Snina.

Road classes

In 2016, the road network was divided into;

  • 3,306 kilometers of first-class roads
  • 3,611 kilometers of second-class roads
  • 10,363 kilometers of third-class roads

Road management

The roads of the first class are usually managed by the Slovak road authority (Slovenská správa ciest), abbreviated SSC. The SSC was founded in 1996 and originally managed all important avenues. In 2005 the Slovak highway company (Národná diaľničná spoločnosť), abbreviated NDS, was split from here to develop and manage the highways. This is a company in which the Slovak government is the sole shareholder. The NDS is funded by the government, EU funding, loans and toll revenue. However, due to the split, SSC has virtually no resources left for road projects. Unlike in the Czech Republic, hardly any improvements have been made on first-class roads in Slovakia since 2005.

Since 2004, the second and third class roads have mostly been managed by the regions, called a vyšší územný celok (VÚC) in Slovak. Only in Bratislava and Košice are these types of roads managed by the municipality.

Signage

A portal signpost with the font Universal Grotesk in Žilina.

Slovakia’s signage has taken various forms over the years. The signage was originally similar to that of the Czech Republic, as the two countries originally formed one entity. After 2010, Slovakia introduced its own style of signage, which was subsequently adapted several times. In doing so, the original capital letter has been abandoned. Since 2020, the signage has many similarities with that of Germany in terms of design, although Slovakia does use a prefix and another font called TERN. The choice of targets is clear and people are not afraid to indicate foreign cities.

Electronic signage in the form of matrix and other electronic signs is also used in Slovakia, especially in and around tunnels and around Bratislava.

The Signposting Directive was amended in 2009, 2016 and 2019. Before 2009, the Czechoslovak system was used, with the font Universal Grotesk. This font was used for almost everything in Czechoslovakia. Exit numbering was introduced in 2009. From that moment on, the D numbers were also better signposted, where previously only E numbers were often indicated. In 2016, the Universal Grotesk font was replaced by TERN. Capital script (capital letters) was also abandoned at that time. Improvements to the 2016 guideline were made in 2019.

Former signage

The old style signage in Slovakia.

The older signage is similar to that in the Czech Republic, which is not surprising since both countries used to be one country. The highway signage is green, on the underlying road network blue. Local targets are in white. The font consisted entirely of capitals, as in France and the Czech Republic. The D number of the road numbers was not always indicated, but often the E numbers were. D numbers were originally indicated without a prefix in a red box with a white frame. Country codes in a white oval are also used.

Road safety

Year Road fatalities
2010 345
2011 324
2012 296
2013 223
2014 259
2015 274
2016 242
2017 250
2018 229
2019 245

In Slovakia there were 69 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants in 2010, a decrease of 53 percent compared to 2001. This makes Slovakia the safest country in Central Europe. Road safety in Slovakia is one of the best in the region, in 2013, Slovakia was the first country from the former Eastern Bloc to have fewer road deaths per 1 million inhabitants than the EU average. In 2015, together with Estonia, it was the only country to have a lower number of road deaths per 1 million inhabitants than the EU average. Slovakia is now outperforming neighboring Austriaand also better than, for example, Italy, Portugal or Belgium. However, the decline in the number of road deaths has stagnated since 2012, a trend that is visible in much of Europe.

Maximum speed

The maximum speed is a maximum of 130 km/h on the Diaľnica and the Rýchlostná cesta. 90 km/h often applies on highways and expressways in urban areas. Outside built-up areas on regular roads, the maximum speed is 90 km/h and 50 km/h within built-up areas. The maximum speed for trucks is never higher than 90 km/h.

From 2019, it has been tested with a maximum speed of 140 km/h on the D1 around Poprad.

Toll

For the highways with a D number and the expressways with an R number, an e-toll sticker is usually required. Weekly, monthly and annual vignettes are available. These cost €10, €14 and €50 respectively in 2021 and are relatively cheap compared to other countries in the region such as Austria and Slovenia. The electronic truck toll Emyto, on the other hand, is quite expensive.

Revenue

Toll revenues in Slovakia are relatively small, in 2012 only € 206 million, 75% of which is accounted for by freight traffic and 25% by passenger traffic. In 2013, the vignette toll raised €62.5 million.

Slovakia Road Network