Building materials

Civil engineering

Roads, bridges, tunnels: order situation in civil engineering stable despite the crisis

While residential construction is currently in crisis, the order situation in civil engineering is stable. Roads, railways, bridges and tunnels are so dilapidated in many places that they urgently need to be renovated or completely rebuilt. BayWa Bau supplies construction sites throughout Germany with materials. A business that is a lot of fun - but also requires a great deal of patience, says department head Uwe Feil.

  • Building materials

Mr Feil, building construction is struggling, what is the situation in civil engineering?

We work primarily for the public sector and supply infrastructure projects that are often only put out to tender after years of planning. That's why we don't know the cycles of building construction. But we are preparing for the next building construction project: Last year, we supplied material that will be used to develop 160 residential areas, for example sewers and manholes.

Which orders are particularly attractive?

Motorway contracts are attractive due to their duration of one to five years. Logistics centres are also interesting because of the short construction time and the comparatively high material requirements. However, we also have a constant stream of new civil engineering projects. For example, we supply materials for broadband expansion, the expansion of charging infrastructure for electric cars or for the construction of power lines. We are also active in track construction throughout Germany. However, new tasks are also arising due to new legal requirements. The topic of rainwater management is particularly worth mentioning here.

  • Lorry and forklift truck on building materials yard

How bad is the renovation backlog on Germany's roads and railways?

We have many roads, railway lines and, above all, bridges that should no longer be used. Renovations in these areas are expensive, complicated and often just a "band-aid" until the next renovation... Overall, the refurbishment backlog is worrying. Every renovation that makes roads unusable is an economic loss.

Is all this traffic ruining our roads and bridges?

Of course it is. Our roads were not designed for so much traffic when they were built. You have to remember that every time you drive onto a bridge, you put a strain on the structure: Braking, starting, braking, starting. The tarmac or concrete cracks, water penetrates, it freezes, the material bursts. Most bridges would have to be larger. They would have to be built with different statics and other materials.

Major projects are often much more expensive than calculated. Why is that?

It's because of the planning time. In the case of Stuttgart 21, the investment sum was first estimated. Then planning and construction went on for eight years. In the meantime, everything has become more expensive. The approvals take too long, as does the construction time. It was the same with BER, the new airport in Berlin: the regulations changed during the construction period. A disaster. But there is another way: the private airport operator in Frankfurt, for example, is pushing for the fastest possible award and completion so that the same rights apply during acceptance as during award.

  • Uwe Feil is Head of Expertise at BayWa Tiefbau. He has known the industry for 40 years.