The Growing Need for Inexpensive Infrastructure Materials
Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time on America’s highways has probably noticed the increased amount of construction on our highways and urban streets. An infrastructure system that was state of the art at the time of it’s conception back in the 1950s has now begun to unravel at the seams. The cost of restoring this vital part of our country’s transportation grid has soared while the actual work done to restore the roadways we travel has actually stagnated since 1979. Part of the problem has been to identify likely building materials for these roadways that can handle today’s increased traffic and meet our need for environmentally sound planning. But there are some materials that may solve the problem.
The Role of Pavers
In urban environments where heavy traffic is often in the form of cars sitting at traffic lights or buses waiting for passengers, permeable pavers may be a smart solution. These pavers can also be used instead of traditional sidewalks as a way for urban planners to introduce a greener solution to foot traffic control. With an ability to mitigate the impact of storm water, a need that will only grow in the future in many cities, these pavers could be a smart solution to many of our infrastructure decay problems in both urban and rural locations.
A Move to Rail and River
Many see that a greater utilization of two of our greatest assets, the country-spanning railways and our vast network of rivers, as a possible new transportation route. While both of these were utilized to a greater extent in the 18th century, they were largely abandoned with the ascendency of the gasoline engine. But as we move towards a carbon-free or low carbon economy, the value of these two traditional transportation routes may be seen once more as viable. If a way was created to make use of these already existing routes, perhaps with non-traditional forms of power such as solar or electric, the current over proliferation of wasteful concrete highways may be solved.
The Impact of Self-Driven Autos
One of the considerations given is the upcoming impact of the development of self-driving cars. Many predict that the acceptance of this new technology will be widespread and fast. The impact of this new technology on our transportation structure is that it may decrease our need for highways and urban roads. Many see the widespread acceptance of the cars within 20 years and the end result to be fewer actual cars on the road as they become a shared commodity. This should result in roadways being used more efficiently and fewer accidents. Self driven transport trucks are already in use in Europe and may result in more efficient transportation along fewer corridors. This could result in a diminishing reliance on roadways for goods transfer.
The Future of US Transport Infrastructure
As you can see, with the right materials in place and new avenues of transport, today’s current crumbling of our highways need not continue to impact the ability of people and goods to move from place to place. As more of our urban centers look to greener solutions for both roadways and sidewalks we may see the divide between transit and human blur. Highways don’t always need to be paved, they can be rail or river just as easily. And finally, recognition has to be given for the evolution of our whole transportation structure with the coming development of self driving vehicles.