Autobahns of Austria

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Autobahns of Austria
Interactive map of Autobahns of Austria
Brenner Autobahn near Innsbruck Brenner-Autobahn mit der Europabrucke bei Patsch.jpg
Brenner Autobahn near Innsbruck

The Austrian autobahns are controlled-access highways in Austria. They are officially called Bundesstraßen A (Bundesautobahnen) under the authority of the Federal Government according to the Austrian Federal Road Act (Bundesstraßengesetz), [1] not to be confused with the former Bundesstraßen highways maintained by the Austrian states since 2002.



Ideas to build up a limited-access road network with grade separated interchanges had been developed already in the 1920s, including a "Nibelungen" highway along the Donau (Danube) river from Passau to Wien (Vienna) and further on towards Budapest. Those plans however had never been carried out due to the lasting economic crisis that hit the country after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918, exacerbated by the Great Depression.

The first autobahn on Austrian territory was the West Autobahn from Salzburg to Vienna. Building started immediately after the Austrian Anschluss in 1938 [the annexation of Austria] on order of Adolf Hitler as extension of the German Reichsautobahn-Strecke 26 from München (Munich) (the present-day Bundesautobahn 8). However, only 16.8 km (10.4 mi) including the branch-off of the planned Tauern Autobahn had been finished on 13 September 1941. [2] Construction works discontinued the next year due to World War II. After the war delaying resistance by the Soviet occupation forces as well as claims raised by West Germany to the former Reichsautobahn assets obstructed the resumption until 1954.

Autobahn sign Hinweiszeichen 8a.svg
Autobahn sign
Up to as late as 1995, Austria used yellow road markings (the dashed lines) on its motorways, the emergency lane being designed by a solid white line Austria vecchia segnaletica orizzontale autostrada.png
Up to as late as 1995, Austria used yellow road markings (the dashed lines) on its motorways, the emergency lane being designed by a solid white line

Construction started in the US-occupied zone of Salzburg and Upper Austria, partly relying on the pre-war planning, and were extended after the country gained full sovereignty by the 1955 Austrian State Treaty. The first section of the West Autobahn up to Mondsee was opened in 1958, by 1967 the route between Salzburg and Vienna was completed. From 1959 onwards the Süd Autobahn was built to reach the southern state capitals of Graz and Klagenfurt from Vienna. The construction of the Tauern Autobahn was not resumed until 1969. The Inn Valley Autobahn in the western state of Tyrol was built from 1968 onwards, up to today it is not directly connected to the main Austrian autobahn network, as via motorway drivers have to use the German autobahns BAB 8 and 93 along the Deutsches Eck link.

Autobahn system

Austria currently has 18 autobahns, since 1982 built and maintained by the self-financed ASFiNAG stock company in Vienna, which is wholly owned by the Republic of Austria and earns revenue from road user charges and tolls. Each route bears a number as well as an official name with local reference, which, however, is not displayed on road signs. Unusually for European countries, interchanges (between motorways called Knoten, "knots") are numbered by distance in kilometres starting from where the route begins. That arrangement is also used in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and most Canadian provinces (and in most American states, albeit in miles). The current Austrian Autobahn network has a total length of 1,720 km (1,070 mi).

The system is going to be expanded; one autobahn is currently under construction, and one more is planned. The transit traffic across the main chain of the Alps, especially by trucks, has led to a considerable environmental load to the fragile Alpine ecosystem. Several action groups urge the transfer of freight transport from road to rail. In 1991, Austria signed the Alpine Convention on the protection of the natural environment.

NumberNameRouteLength (km)Length (mi)Status
A1-AT.svg A1 West Autobahn Vienna AuhofSankt PöltenLinzSalzburgWalserberg border crossing (German Bundesautobahn 8)292181Open
A2-AT.svg A2 Süd Autobahn Vienna Inzersdorf interchange (A23) – Wiener NeustadtGrazKlagenfurtThörl-Maglern border crossing (Italian Autostrada 23)377234Open
A3-AT.svg A3 Südost Autobahn Guntramsdorf interchange (A2) – Eisenstadt interchange (S31)3824open; Eisenstadt – Klingenbach border crossing (Hungarian M85 motorway): planned
A4-AT.svg A4 Ost Autobahn Vienna ErdbergSchwechatNickelsdorf border crossing (Hungarian M1 motorway)6641Open
A5-AT.svg A5 Nord Autobahn Eibesbrunn interchange (S1) – WolkersdorfPoysdorf 2415Open; Poysdorf – Drasenhofen border crossing (Czech R52 expressway): planned
A6-AT.svg A6 Nordost Autobahn Bruckneudorf interchange – Kittsee border crossing (Slovakian D4 motorway)2214Open
A7-AT.svg A7 Mühlkreis Autobahn Linz interchange (A1) – Unterweitersdorf (connection Mühlviertler Schnellstraße (S10) to Czech D3 motorway under construction)2918Open
A8-AT.svg A8 Innkreis Autobahn Voralpenkreuz interchange (A1, A9) – WelsSuben border crossing (German Bundesautobahn 3)7647Open
A9-AT.svg A9 Pyhrn Autobahn Voralpenkreuz interchange (A1, A8) – GrazSpielfeld border crossing (Slovenian A1 motorway)230140Open; some two-way tunnels
A10-AT.svg A10 Tauern Autobahn Salzburg interchange (A1) – Villach interchange (A2, A11)193120Open
A11-AT.svg A11 Karawanken Autobahn Villach interchange (A2, A10) – Karawanken Tunnel border crossing (Slovenian A2 motorway)2113Open; one two-way tunnel
A12-AT.svg A12 Inn Valley Autobahn Kufstein border crossing (German Bundesautobahn 93) – InnsbruckZams (Arlberg Schnellstraße (S16))15395Open
A13-AT.svg A13 Brenner Autobahn Innsbruck interchange (A12) – Brenner Pass border crossing (Italian Autostrada 22)3522Open
A14-AT.svg A14 Rheintal/Walgau Autobahn Hörbranz border crossing (German Bundesautobahn 96) – BregenzFeldkirchBludenz-Montafon (Arlberg Schnellstraße (S16))6138Open
A21-AT.svg A21 Wiener Außenring Autobahn Steinhäusl interchange (A1) – AllandVösendorf interchange (A2, S1)3824Open
A22-AT.svg A22 Donauufer Autobahn Vienna Kaisermühlen interchange (A23) – KorneuburgStockerau interchange (S3, S5)3421Open; Kaisermühlen – Kaiserebersdorf interchange (A4): proposed
A23-AT.svg A23 Autobahn Südosttangente Wien Vienna Altmannsdorf – Vienna Hirschstetten 1811Open; Hirschstetten – Raasdorf interchange (S1): planned
A24-AT.svg A24 Verbindungsspange
Vienna Hanssonkurve interchange (A23) – Vienna Rothneusiedl interchange (S1)00Plans rejected
A25-AT.svg A25 Welser Autobahn Haid interchange (A1)– Wels interchange (A8)2012Open
A26-AT.svg A26 Linzer Autobahn Hummelhof interchange (A7) – Urfahr interchange (A7)00Planned
Total length1,7201,070
A map of the Austrian Autobahn and Schnellstrasse system. Blue = Autobahn, Green = Schnellstrasse, Dotted = planned or under construction Autobahnen und Schnellstrassen in Osterreich 2016.svg
A map of the Austrian Autobahn and Schnellstraße system. Blue = Autobahn, Green = Schnellstraße, Dotted = planned or under construction

Traffic laws and enforcement

Unlike German autobahns, on Austrian autobahns a general speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph) is set, although as of August 25, 2018, the FPÖ government has been going on a trial for a possible speed limit increase to 140 km/h (87 mph) on the Autobahn 1 freeway. They may only be used by powered vehicles that are designed to achieve at least 60 km/h (37 mph). While on the motorway voluntary stops, U-turns and backward driving are prohibited.


Autostrasse sign Hinweiszeichen 8c.svg
Autostraße sign

Schnellstraßen (officially Bundesstraßen S) are federal limited-access roads very similar to Autobahnen; the chief difference is that they are more cheaply built with fewer tunnels, mostly just following the given topography. Depending on the road extension, they are either signposted as Autobahn or Autostraße according to Austrian traffic regulations. The speed limit on Schnellstraßen is 100 km/h, however on some it is 130 km/h indicated by a sign. The current Schnellstraßen system has a total length of 466 km (290 mi).

As they fit better with the mountainous topography of Austria, Schnellstraßen often serve as an autobahn substitute. For example, the main link between the Austria's westernmost state of Vorarlberg and adjacent Tyrol is entirely provided by the S16 Arlberg Schnellstraße , including the Arlberg Road Tunnel completed in 1979.


A22 Donauuferautobahn, near the exit Floridsdorfer Brucke A22 Floridsdorfer Brucke.jpg
A22 Donauuferautobahn, near the exit Floridsdorfer Brücke

Since 1997, the use of all Autobahnen and Schnellstraßen requires the purchase of a vignette (toll sticker) for passenger cars up to 3.5 tonnes or a GO-Box (electronic toll system) for trucks and buses. The toll fee (Maut) has to be paid to legally access the Austrian Autobahns at any time except the Autobahns listed below. On routes which are more costly to maintain, mostly Alpine routes with tunnels—sections of the Pyhrn Autobahn, the Tauern Autobahn (Tauern Tunnel) and the Karawanken Autobahn (Karawanken Tunnel), as well as the Brenner Autobahn—a toll is collected at time of use via toll plazas and therefore drivers do not need to have a vignette to use these Autobahns.

Vignettes (coll. Pickerl) are available in varying lengths of validity (10 days, two months, or a year). As of 2016, a vignette valid for a year costs €85.70 for cars and €34.10 for motorcycles. [3] To prove to have paid this fee, the toll stickers have to be put onto the inside of the front windscreen. Once removed, they no longer are valid, so each car on Austrian Autobahns needs its own toll sticker.

Since 2004 trucks must carry the GO-Box, a little white box which counts the length of the Autobahn used by way of electrical control points, queried by overhead DSRC microwave radio transceivers at different locations. Overhead 3-D infrared laser scanners are used to detect and photograph trucks travelling without it.

A fine of €110 must be paid if a vehicle is on the motorway without a GO-Box or a vignette, or a fine of €240 if a vignette is not affixed onto the windscreen or in one of the approved places or the vehicle is on the motorway with a vignette that has expired or been tampered with. If the driver refuses to pay the fine, then the fine will increase to between €300 and €3,000.

See also

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Karawanks Tunnel (motorway)

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ASFiNAG Austrian highway operating company

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Reichsautobahn Initial phase of the German Autobahn (limited access highway) network

The Reichsautobahn system was the beginning of the German autobahns under the Third Reich. There had been previous plans for controlled-access highways in Germany under the Weimar Republic, and two had been constructed, but work had yet to start on long-distance highways. After previously opposing plans for a highway network, the Nazis embraced them after coming to power and presented the project as Hitler's own idea. They were termed "Adolf Hitler's roads" and presented as a major contribution to the reduction of unemployment. Other reasons for the project included: enabling Germans to explore and appreciate their country, and there was a strong aesthetic element to the execution of the project under the Third Reich; military applications, although to a lesser extent than has often been thought; a permanent monument to the Third Reich, often compared to the pyramids; and general promotion of motoring as a modernization that in itself had military applications.

Arlberg Schnellstraße

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  1. Bundesstraßengesetz 1971 (in German)
  2. "Beginn des Autobahnbaus in Österreich" (in German) Archived March 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  3. "MANDARIN-ORANGE - VIGNETTE COLOR 2016". ASFiNAG. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.