- Portugal's transportation system consists of 820 kilometers (492 miles) of navigable waterways, 3,630 kilometers (2,178 miles) of railroad, and 73,660 kilometers (44,196 miles) of roads, of which 12,660 (7,596 miles) are unpaved. Improving Portugal's roads and railroads were major priorities during the Estado Novo. In 1946, all of Portugal's private railroad companies were amalgamated into one, the Companhia Portuguesa de Caminhos de Ferro, which was granted a monopoly for rail transport. In 1959, the electrified line from Lisbon to Cascais and the Lisbon metro (subway) opened. Steam engines were gradually replaced with electric and diesel locomotives. During the Estado Novo, the length of Portugal's road network increased threefold and were considered good by European standards in 1950. However, accelerated economic development and the increase in the number of vehicles during the 1960s and 1970s outstripped road capacity, and Portuguese roads became the most dangerous in western Europe.Bridge building was also an Estado Novo priority, with bridges over the Douro at Oporto and the suspension bridge (the longest in Europe) at Lisbon being the most impressive examples. The Estado Novo also improved port facilities in Lisbon and Oporto, and built a new deep-water port at Sines. The Estado Novo also built airports at Lisbon (Portela), Oporto (Pedras Rubras), Faro in the Algarve, and Funchal on Madeira to encourage tourism. In 1946, a government-owned airline, Transportes Aéreas Portugueses (TAP), was created and began operating flights within Portugal and to the major cities of western Europe, several larger cities in the United States, South America, and the capital cities of Portugal's colonies in Africa.After joining the European Union (EU), Portugal began an ambitious program to modernize its transportation networks in 1986. During the 1990s, the nationalized railroad, airline, trucking, and bus companies were restructured and/or privatized. With the help of EU monies, Portugal's road network was upgraded and superhighways (auto estradas) completed from Lisbon to Oporto and Faro in the Algarve, and from Lisbon and Oporto into Spain. Portugal's railroad network was upgraded to handle high-speed trains (TGVs) between the country's major cities and to Madrid. To facilitate logistics during Expo '98, a new metro station (Oriente) was opened and a new bridge (Vasco da Gama Bridge) built across the Tagus. In the meantime, Lisbon's international airport at Portela, despite steady improvements, could no longer accommodate efficiently the increasing air traffic. An important part of the plan to modernize the Lisbon region's transportation system is the long-debated construction of an additional airport, across the Tagus River, with adjoining roads and underground metro, set to open between 2010 and 2012.
Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. by Douglas L. Wheeler . 2014.
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