Green Transport Still Needs Grey Roads

This blog was provided by Green & Blue Environmental 

Roads are one of the easiest ways to reach your destination. You do not need to adjust to anyone else's schedule, you can simply sit and drive. It is a very comfortable way of transportation. Nonetheless, big cities struggle to reduce traffic jams and commute time. Moving towards COP 26 sustainability goals, different solutions are proposed to reduce environmentally unfriendly transportation. Responsible road network entities around the world are investing money and time to develop infrastructure to encourage people to use public transportation, bicycles, or electric cars. However, one of the most common means of transportation needs the pavement or railways to function, which every year are affected by natural disasters.

The U.S. is ranked as a country with the longest roads network of 6.58 million kilometers in total length. 4.3 million kilometers are covered with a pavement of which 76,334km are expressways. Maintaining such long distances of pavement is a challenge, which causes high expenses for states and local governments. In 2021 a decision was made in the U.S. drastically to increase public investment by 50% for highways compared to previous years. New risks such as the impacts of climate change, as natural disasters, are factored into these budgets.

However, most of the investments are dedicated to transforming transport into a greener perspective. Unfortunately, the highways built in the 20th century are reaching the end of their expected lifetime. Greener transport facilities need important infrastructures to function such as charging stations. But the fact that electric cars are driven on the same pavement as their combusting counterparts is not in the focus. Recent studies on the effects of climate change suggest that changes in extreme weather patterns, as well as gradual changes, will act as a stressor to highways infrastructure in many locations.

At Green and Blue Environmental ApS (GBE), we are proponents of effective adaptation to climate change to achieve more sustainability. The pavements we propose to use are more sustainable, with a longer lifetime and lower maintenance. Using up-to-date high-resolution climate projections in combination with relevant system data to explore climate change risks can guide the adaptation process.

The analysis and integration of climatic and meteorological parameters over periods of time ahead of us help us foresee the effects of a changing climate and natural disasters. GBE is already working on such a project in Germany where we update the regulations on pavement construction by integrating projected climate data. The BASt (Federal Highway Agency of Germany) project is a governmental effort to anticipate the effects of climate change on Germany’s highway system. This is achieved by introducing a design strategy for asphalt and concrete pavements that takes into account climate change. A newly planned pavement will then be constructed with the future climate in mind rather than the past.

Among others, GBE’s role in this project will be to define the most influential climate parameters for the structural performance of roads. These parameters will then be projected over time into the future to generate maps and datasets that will help engineers to develop road pavements and their physical parameters such as material composition or pavement thickness in Germany. This will reduce the appearance of potholes, increase the lifetime and durability of highways and their safety. With pavements being more resilient to climate change, it will cost less to maintain and repair them, also the losses due to traffic incidents and jams caused by construction sites will be reduced. 

Join us and learn more about Green & Blue Environmental and more companies like them at the Natural Disaster Expo on February 7th & 8th, get your free access to the event here.