The longest road in Spain

8 September 2014

With just over half a million square kilometers, Spain is the fourth largest country in Europe. Along with the mountainous terrain, communication between different places in Spain has been a clear challenge for engineers. The N340 is a great example of engineering as it is the longest road in Spain and probably one of the most traveled during summer.

This road joins Cádiz with Barcelona, passing Malaga, over a distance of 1.248 km. and spans ten provinces belonging to four different autonomous communities. Its origins can be found in the so called Via Augusta that ran from the Pyrenees. During Roman occupation, this road was an important hub of business and communications that has survived through to our days.

During the decade of the 1920’s, in the time of Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, the government started the so called National Circuit of Special Pavements, a program which tried to fix the deteriorating road network in Spain, paving some stretches of the Roman road. However, it wasn't till the decades of the 50’s and 60’s when the road was finally finished. The tourist business developing in some towns and migration movement from the country to the city were keys for its expansion, being the road traveled by thousands of families who, during the summer months left Cataluña to return to their hometowns, many in Andalucia.

This road’s nomenclature is based on the method of numbering the roads in Spain. So the first digit is assigned by the area between the N-III and N-IV highways, the second is the distance in kilometers from Madrid (more than 400 km. in this case) and the third is due to its traversal nature, with it not being a radial road.

N-340 starts in Cadiz at the junction with the A-4 highway. The first section is called A-48 until it reaches Vejer de la Frontera. In its 1.248 kilometers it goes through towns like Conil, Marbella, Malaga, El Ejido, Murcia, Elche, Alicante, Valencia, Castellón or Tarragona, until it reaches Avenida del Parallel in Barcelona.

Studies indicate that this is one of the roads with the highest accident rates in the country. Therefore, in recent years the new A7 motorway is being built next to it. The new motorway will eventually be 1.330 km. long even though there are still 320 km. left to build, mainly between Castellón and Barcelona. When it is completely finished, it will hold the record that is now held by the old road. In spite of it, the old N-340 will remain the axis that runs through the Mediterranean coast and it will remain in our memory as the road that we had to travel during those long car trips to the seaside.