The 495-kilometer (307-mile) long Autostrade A-3 connects Naples and Salerno with extreme southern Italy. It joins Autostrade A-1 (which extends along the Mediterranean coast north to Rome and Milan) in Naples.
Autostrade A-3 from Naples to Pompeii (about 30 kilometers, or 19 miles) has been improved only slightly since it originally opened in 1929. Its substandard design is characterized by low overpass clearances (about four meters or 12 feet), tight ramps, a lack of shoulders, and an absence of acceleration-deceleration lanes (all traffic must come to a complete stop before entering the autostrade). Congestion was an acute problem on the four-lane autostrade (two lanes in each direction).
Parts of A-3 were being rebuilt during our drive. The widening and rebuilding of bridges are intended to correct the most egregious deficiencies (notably through the addition of shoulders and extension of acceleration-deceleration lanes), but do not appear to address capacity issues with the creation of an additional travel lane.
The landscape along A-3 was an endless stream of apartment blocks, industrial buildings, and petroleum storage facilites. However, the nearby Mount Vesuvius made things interesting for not only the view, but also the highway's construction. To build A-3 near Pompeii, engineers blasted through rock from lava blows dating back to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
For more information on Italy's autostrade network, please visit the official Autostrade web site or Eugenio Merzagora's unofficial autostrade web site.