Online Geography Resources


Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass

Geography Starter


The building of relief roads / bypasses can create very strong opinions in the local community. Watch the following video clips to get an overview of the opinions that could be presented about a proposed development.
Geography Activities


Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass

The Location of Ax-les-Thermes and the Bypass


Image of the Ax-les-Thermes Bypass in Development

Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass, Pyrenees, France

Ax-les-Thermes Bypass Fact File

Country France - South West
Department Ariège which is part of the region of Midi-Pyrénées and is surrounded by the French departments of Haute-Garonne, Aude, and Pyrénées-Orientales, as well as Spain and Andorra on the south.
Bypass Length 5.6km, of which 1.3km will be dual carriageway.
Cost €46.42 million
Funding The French State Government will fund 46%, the Regional Government will fund 46% and the remaining 8% will come from the European Union.
Dates and Duration

The bypass got the go ahead in 2000 and work started in 2003. It is estimated to be finished in 2010/2011,

Reasoning from the Bypass

The Ax-les-Thermes bypass is part of the overall improvement of the RN20 from Pamiers to Ax-les-Thermes thus making the journey into Andorra and Spain faster and ultimately opening up a faster trade route from Amsterdam to Barcelona.

Special Considerations

Two viaducts have to be built as well as a big supporting terrace on the side of the mountain on which to build the road in some sections.

To build the terraces to support the road, 650 000 cubic metres of rock will be used, 450 000 of which will be exploded on site.


For the Ax-les-Thermes Bypass - Click to see a popup window with more information

Mme Valérie ORLU
Monsieur Christophe NORBERT
Monsieur Yves ESCOFFIER
Mme Claudine BONAPARTE
Local Resident
Haulage Company Director
Construction Worker
Member of Regional Government

Against the Ax-les-Thermes Bypass - Click to see a popup window with more information

Mme Stella PERRIER
Monsieur Jacques DE LA MONTAGNE
Local Café Owner
General Manager of Ax Bonascre Ski Resort
Environmentalist representing 'Ariège Vert'
Local Resident

Images of Ax-les-Thermes - Click on the images to see a larger version

Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass, Pyrenees, France
Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass
Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass
Ax-les-Thermes looking towards Andorra.
Signpost: Ax Bonascre Ski Resort and the N20 between Andorra and Toulouse.
Road side businesses - including Mlle Stella PERRIER's café.

Task One: Research


Task Two: Debate - Should the Ax-les-Thermes Bypass have been built?

You should take on the role of one of the eight people detailed above and prepare an argument that could be presented at a public meeting about the building of the Ax-les-Thermes bypass. It is important that you have clear arguments and that you have thought about the arguments that will be given against you.
It is necessary for the public meeting to run in a certain way.
  1. The planning meeting is chaired by a Chairperson, whose decision on all matters is final.
  2. You can only speak ONCE during the meeting. The presentation of your argument should be a maximum of two minutes long. It should develop an argument rather than making a list of points. You need to be ready to answer questions about what you have said.
  3. You CAN 'intervene' as many times as you like. To intervene is to ask a question about a point being made.
  4. You can use notes to help you with your argument.
  5. If you want to speak during the meeting, you should catch the Chairpersons's eye by standing up as soon as someone has finished speaking. The Chairperson will pick someone from those standing up.
  6. If you spot someone breaking these rules you should tell the Chairperson. This is called a point of order.

Adapted from Source and Source

Geography Review


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