The Arch of the Philaeni, March 1937
In March 1937, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini made a state visit to Italian Libya to open this new military and civilian highway, built by governor-general Italo Balbo
When Balbo died in 1940 in a plane crash, the Italian government named the 1822 kilometer road Via Balbia
in his honour. It was used to improve the economy and viability of the Italian colony of Libya.
The Italians also constructed a minor road parallel to the coastal road, starting from Marj
, to Lamluda
which is 143 km (89 mi) long.
The road was built from the Tunisian
border to the Egyptian border and was extended in 1940 by the Via della Vittoria
inside western Egypt. According to historian Baldinetti the construction was done to give work to more than 10,000 Libyan Arabs.
Near the middle of the road, the border of Italian Tripolitania
and Italian Cyrenaica
was marked by a Marble Arch
, named Arch of Fileni
. It was created by the Italian architect Florestano Di Fausto
. There was an inscription at the top of the arch which read: Alme Sol, possis nihil urbe Roma visere maius
(Latin for "Oh kind Sun, may you never look upon a city greater than Rome"). The "Arch of Fileni" was demolished in 1970 by the new coup d'état revolutionary regime of Muammar Gaddafi
Course of the Litoranea Balbo and Libyan railways
A railway was planned for the central section of the Litoranea Balbo parallel to the road, to connect Tripoli
but little had been built before the outbreak of the Second World War
World War II
The highway was fully paved. However, in World War II
, during the Western Desert Campaign
of the Allies North African Campaign
, the road was heavily used in fighting the Axis forces, and remained damaged for decades. After the war the "Litoranea Balbo" was partially destroyed but in the 1960s it was improved and enlarged to four lanes in many sections with a new name, the Libyan Coastal Highway.
Highway with bridge overpass entrance to the east of Bayda (2010)
The road was renamed Libyan Coastal Highway after the country gained independence and was improved with enlargements. It was fully repaved in 1967.
According to Hussein Maziq
, prime minister of Libya
(1965–1967) under King Idris
, there had been plans to make this road a dual carriageway road.
Two parts were built: the Sabratha
section; and the Ajdabiya
section. The entire construction did not occur because of the coup d'état political change by Muammar Gaddafi on 1 September 1969. The "Arch of Fileni" was demolished in 1973 by the new revolutionary regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi
It's to be noted that some other roads in northern Cyrenaica are more Coastal
, or closer to the coast, than the coastal highway itself, like Tolmeita
road, and Derna
2011 civil war
In the 2011 Libyan civil war
the highway was an active component for combat movement and skirmishes, and when a section's access and transit is under control - a strategic and symbolic element.
The highway has become a junction for new southbound roads into the Fezzan
region and Sahara
, and new east-west shortcut highways in Cyrenaica
. They include:
- ^ Tarikh Libia men Nehayat al Qarn at Tasi' Ashar hatta Amm 1969, N.E. Prushin, Trans. by Dr. Imad Hatem, Markaz Jihad al Libiyeen lid Dirast at Tarikhiya, 2nd ed., 2005, p.235.
- ^ Doxiadis Associates, "Transport in Libya", Vol. 1, prepared for the government of the Kingdom of Libya, March 20, 1965, pp. 96, 123-124.
- ^ El Hadi Mustapha Bulegma, p.487.
- ^ A meeting between Maher A. A. Abdussalam & Mr. Maziq.
- El Hadi Mustapha Bulegma, & Saad Khalil Kezeiri (ed.), " Al Jamahiriya: Dirasa fil Jughrafia", Ad Dar al Jamahiriya lil nashr wa tawzee wa e'lan, Surt, Libya, 1995.
- G. Pini, La rete stradale dell’Impero in “Africa Italiana”, dicembre 1939, n. 12 (in Italian)
- Baldinetti, Anna (2014). The Origins of the Libyan Nation: Colonial Legacy, Exile and the Emergence of a New Nation-State. Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern History. New York: Routledge. ISBN 1-13524-501-0.
- Pini, G (December 1939). "La rete stradale dell'Impero". Africa Italiana (12). ISSN 2160-3049.
Last edited on 7 March 2021, at 18:06
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