A brief description of the development and evolution of road networks over the centuries
|Technology driven civilization |
The history of road construction
Transportation as far as mankind is concerned remains an undisputed factor in the improvement of countries economies and widespread civilisation of the human world and transformation of a country from an underdeveloped state to a developing state and then to a developed state.
There are several means of transportation with very incredible history and invention; the air, the sea and the land and even the pipelines as means of transportation for crude oil.
Each with it's own fascinating and peculiar nature and problems.
But the land as a means of transportation has always been a source of intriguing possibilities and it's development over the centuries have never ceased to lower it's momentum and shows no sign of ever becoming less fascinating and important.
The history of road construction dates back to ancient times in the history of mankind
A road is an open way for travel and transportation.
While road construction is provision of a route for travel and transportation
The earliest road network was built by the pharaoh's cheop in Egypt around 2500 BC, which was 1000 yards long and 60 feet wide.
But was never regarded as a true road because it served only one purpose of leadding to the site of the Egyptian pyramids.
There were several other ancient road builders who emerged like the Assyrian empire that began the first organized road building in 1115 BC and continued on it for about 600 years.
The Royal Road built by the Persians from the Persian gulf to the Aegean sea for a distance of 1775 miles around 800 BC, Carthage, on the north coast of Africa.
Of all the ancient road builders, the best of them all is believed to be ancient Romans who constructed the world's best engineered, straightest and most sophiscated road networks until modern times.
Constructing road networks of 53000 miles roads, which enveloped all of England to the north, majority of western Europe, radiated throughout the Iberian peninsula.
Covered and laid athwart of the entire Mediterranean area.
This Roman roads was composed of a graded soil foundation topped by four courses
A bedding of sand or mortal
Rows of large and flat stones
A thin layer of gravel mixed with lime
A thin surface of flint like lava
The roads were about 3 to 5 feet thick and has variable width from 8 to 35 feet, but 12 to 24 feet was the average width for the main road.
Their road construction style remained the best and most complex until the advent of modern road construction technologies in the very late 18th and 19th centuries
Amazingly, in 1717 in Scotland, a man by name John Metcalfe who became blind at age 6 built many miles of roads and bridges in Yorkshire, England.
The roads were built in three layers:
A foundation of large stones
A mixture of road materials
A layer of gravels
Later around the very late 18th century, road construction received a massive boost from two British engineers namely Thomas Telford and John loudon McAdam, who had different road construction systems
Thomas Telford, originally a stone mason had a very brilliant system of road construction, which included:
Digging a trench and installation of a heavy rock for foundation
Surfacing with a 6-inch layer of gravel
The center of the road is raised during construction, producing a crown that allows water to drain off.
Though faster and less expensive, but it's still costly and requires constant resurfacing with gravel.
Furthermore, McAdam's system of road construction was quite peculiar principle of building a well-drained road built directly on the subsoil instead of on a stone foundation in Telford's system.
McAdam roads was composed of:
Placing a closely compacted 10-12 inch layer of stone, which has been broken to an inch in diameter and raised in the center to facilitate drainage
Then a carpet of finer grained stone that cemented by the setting of the powder.
A process completed in stages, allowing the roads traffic to compact each stage.
McAdam's roads has an advantage of speed and low cost, but lacked the ability to support heavy motor vehicles, which proved it's ultimate undoing.
Which proved Telford's system the standard road construction system for roads that will support heavy motor vehicles.
Road construction has a very long and fascinating history and will continue to evolve as long technology evolves and as far as need for improved transportation and relationship between societies and nations countries continue to increases
Finally, Road construction have been bombarded by many situations like road accidents, armed robbery attacks and increased costs of transportation.
But will continue to evolve as the need for it arises.