Roads and motorways are essential for modern human life









Moscow, Russian traffic jam


Traffic congestion is an international problem. This is a jam in Moscow.





Get used to driving at 40mph on the motorway': Roads boss warns drivers their morning commute is only going to get 'slower and slower'


* Chief executive of Highways Agency says motorway are becoming slower
* Graham Dalton says some major roads now have a target of being 40 mph
* Adds that slowing motorway speeds are 'not acceptable'
* Britain is ranked 24th in the world for its roads behind France 


Drivers must get used to traveling at just 40mph on motorways, the official in charge of Britain’s roads has warned.

Graham Dalton, chief executive of the Highways Agency, admitted speeds were still not fast enough during rush hour – and said there was a danger traffic would get ‘slower and slower’.

On some congested routes there is an unofficial target of only 40mph, he said – a far cry from the 70mph speed limit.

Labour said cuts to infrastructure spending four years ago meant officials were now unable to invest in new roads and instead had to tackle congestion.

Mr Dalton said that while the Highways Agency was ‘seen as being reasonably successful’ in policy terms, average motorway speeds were still not fast enough.

‘If you’re driving down the M6 to come to work in Birmingham every morning, we’ve got to the point where 50mph or 40mph is acceptable, and the target is to make it 40mph every weekday morning,’ he told Civil Service World magazine.

Variable speed limits on the M42 and M25 – enforced by overhead gantry cameras – are already set at between 40mph and 60mph during rush hour.

There are also plans to cut the speed limit on the M1 between Leeds and Sheffield because of fears over pollution caused by the queuing traffic. Mr Dalton, who has been the agency’s chief executive for six years, said it was hitting its targets by minimising jams, but he conceded that overall motorway speeds were getting worse.

A huge amount of economic activity relies on motorway speeds being fast enough, he said, adding: ‘Getting more predictable, but slower and slower, is not acceptable.’

The Highways Agency is in charge of maintaining 4,300 miles of England’s motorways and A roads. Mr Dalton blamed Treasury spending rules for a £20million loss from his budget due after wet weather repairs in January and February.

‘In a normal commercial business, I can re-plan that work to have it done in March, April, May, June, July – whenever,’ he said.

‘But because I’m part of the civil service, I couldn’t re-plan the work and had to give the money back to the Treasury. At the end of the year, I’ve lost the budget – and that means that because the work still needs to be done, something else won’t get done.’




Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh says people will be shocked to hear that 40 mph is the best drivers can hope for on some motorways



Mary Creagh, Labour’s transport spokesman, said: ‘People will be shocked to hear that 40mph is the best drivers can hope for and shocked by ministers’ complacency.

‘We need a national plan for our road and rail networks so they can support the jobs and growth our country needs.

‘This startling admission is an indictment of this Government’s decision to slash spending on our motorways and cancel many road projects that would have tackled congestion and increased speed and reliability on our motorways.’

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: ‘There is a certain irony that all major political parties seem content to invest tens of billions of pounds to speed up train journeys from London to Birmingham by 32 minutes at speeds of up to 250mph, whilst a fraction of that is spent on motorways to speed up drivers to just 40mph.’

He added: ‘With less than £8billion each year spent on road infrastructure, it’s not hard to spot the root cause of a 40mph go-slow for UK driving commuters and families.

‘Decent, congestion-free roads are essential for economic recovery but that recovery relies on concerted investment to keep traffic flowing at acceptable speeds.’

A Highways Agency spokesman said: ‘There is no target for managing average motorway traffic flows at speeds below 70mph. The Highways Agency has been successful in making journeys more reliable and predictable – now we need to make them quicker as well.’




Highway 410 carrying a nicely un-congested mix of vehicles - well planned





A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which has been paved or otherwise improved to allow smoother (more efficient) travel by an animal or vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways (British English: carriageways) each with one or more lanes and also any associated sidewalks (British English: pavement) and road verges. Roads that are available for use by the public may be referred to as public roads or highways.


Roads were first used for horses, oxen and humans carrying goods over dirt tracks. As commerce increased, the tracks were often flattened or widened to accommodate the activities. The invention of the wheel was preceded by the use of logs as rollers. Early stone-paved roads were built in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization. The Persians later built a network of Royal Roads across their empire.

With the advent of the Roman Empire, there was a need for armies to be able to travel quickly from one area to another, and the roads that existed were often muddy, which greatly delayed the movement of large masses of troops. To resolve this issue, the Romans built great roads. The Roman roads used deep roadbeds of crushed stone as an underlying layer to ensure that they kept dry, as the water would flow out from the crushed stone, instead of becoming mud in clay soils. The Islamic Caliphate later built tar-paved roads in Baghdad.




The A22 from Eastbourne to London's M25 is a typical dual carriageway in the south of England.





It is our belief that everyone should be able to enjoy the use of public highways at an affordable rate. The funding for the building of roads is typically by the state, but sometimes privately. State building of roads is funded by taxes. In the UK this is called "Road Tax" for which you will receive a "Road Fund Licence." Although the usual disc is due to be phased out.


The condition of a nations roads is indicative or their economic performance. Conversely, the road network, or transport system is a means to improve trade and travel generally. In the UK as at May of 2014, the roads are in a generally poor state of repair. There are potholes on major and minor roads that are in our opinion dangerous in terms of causing accidents and harmful in terms of causing damage to vehicles.





Road fund license tax discs in blue and pink. Note that the rate of increase of duty between 2009 and 2014 is £22.00 - a rise of £4.00 a year for what? Is it not breach of contract if an organisation takes money but fails to deliver the goods! These discs are due to be phased out where computer records now tell the authorities instantly is a vehicle is taxed of not.



The reason for this is that less the 10% of our road tax is wasted by our government on other administrative issues - where the economy has not been sustainable for many years, leading to a huge national debt. There is nothing that we can do about that, save to mention our concerns and hope that politicians see the light. It would have been safer for the consumer, not to give control over roads and funding to the state, who would be bound to abuse the income stream. Roads and taxes/licensing (or other method of contribution) would have been much more affordable if it was a private and non-profit making social institution for motorists.


There are multiple paths and competing modes for both personal and freight (road, rail, air, ferries). Induced demand can result in increased on decreased transport levels when road provision is increased by building new roads or decreased by not maintaining the existing infrastructure. 





Thomas Telford





Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE (1757–1834) was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder. After establishing himself as an engineer of road and canal projects in Shropshire, he designed numerous infrastructure projects in his native Scotland, as well as harbours and tunnels. Such was his reputation as a prolific designer of highways and related bridges, he was dubbed The Colossus of Roads, and, reflecting his command of all types of civil engineering in the early 19th century, he was elected as the first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a post he retained for 14 years until his death.



The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines a road as "a line of communication (travelled way) using a stabilized base other than rails or air strips open to public traffic, primarily for the use of road motor vehicles running on their own wheels," which includes "bridges, tunnels, supporting structures, junctions, crossings, interchanges, and toll roads, but not cycle paths."

In urban areas roads may diverge through a city or village and be named as streets, serving a dual function as urban space easement and route. Modern roads are normally smoothed, paved, or otherwise prepared to allow easy travel. Historically many roads were simply recognizable routes without any formal construction or maintenance.




Highway 410, Ontario - deserted





In the United States, laws distinguish between public roads, which are open to public use, and private roads, which are privately controlled. 


The United States has the largest network of roads of any country with 4,050,717 miles (6,518,997 km) as of 2009.


The People's Republic of China is second with 3,583,715 kilometres (2,226,817 mi) of road (2007). When looking only at expressways the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) in China has a total length of 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi) at the end of 2006, and 60,300 km at the end of 2008, second only to the United States with 90,000 kilometres (56,000 mi) in 2005.


The Republic of India has the third largest road system in the world with 3,383,344 kilometres (2,102,312 mi) (2002). 


The Federative Republic of Brazil has the fourth largest road system in the world with 1,751,868 kilometres (1,088,560 mi) (2002). 



In the United Kingdom there is some ambiguity between the terms highway and road. The Highway code details rules for "road users". For the purposes of the English law, Highways Act 1980, which covers England and Wales but not Scotland or Northern Ireland, the term road is defined to be "any length of highway or of any other road to which the public has access, and includes bridges over which a road passes." This includes footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and also road and driveways on private land and many car parks. Vehicle Excise Duty, a road use tax, is payable on some vehicles used on the public road.

The definition of a road depends on the definition of a highway, however there is no formal definition for a highway in the relevant Act. A 1984 ruling said "the land over which a public right of way exists is known as a highway; and although most highways have been made up into roads, and most easements of way exist over footpaths, the presence or absence of a made road has nothing to do with the distinction. Another legal view is that while a highway historically included footpaths, bridleways, driftways, etc., it can now be used to mean those ways that allow the movement of motor-vehicles, and the term rights of way can be used to cover the wider usage. Road means road.




Construction of a road for heavy traffic





Transport engineering is the application of scientific principles to the planning, functional design, operation and management of facilities for transportation to provide for the safe, efficient, rapid, comfortable, convenient, economical, and environmentally compatible movement of people and goods (transport). 


The planning aspects of transport engineering relate to urban planning, and involve technical forecasting decisions and political factors. Technical forecasting of passenger travel usually involves an urban transportation planning model, requiring the estimation of trip generation (how many trips for what purpose), trip distribution (destination choice, where is the traveler going), mode choice (what mode is being taken), and route assignment (which streets or routes are being used). More sophisticated forecasting can include other aspects of traveler decisions, including auto ownership. Passenger trips are the focus of transport engineering because they often represent the peak of demand on any transportation system.


Transportation engineering, as practiced by civil engineers, primarily involves planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of transportation facilities. The design aspects of transport engineering include the sizing of transportation facilities (how many lanes or how much capacity the facility has).


Before any planning occurs the Engineer must take what is known as an inventory of the area or if it is appropriate, the previous system in place. This inventory or database must include information on (1)population, (2)land use, (3)economic activity, (4)transportation facilities and services, (5)travel patterns and volumes, (6)laws and ordinances, (7)regional financial resources, (8)community values and expectations.


Operations and management involve traffic engineering, so that vehicles move smoothly on the road or track. Newer technologies involve intelligent transportation systems. Human factors are an aspect of transport engineering, particularly concerning driver-vehicle interface and user interface of road signs, signals, and markings. These (software) details should not cloud the basic need for roads (hardware) but so often academics get bogged down in details such that they miss the main objectives - and that is one reason there is no planned infrastructure for electric vehicles - at national or international level.



Horizon 2020 transport research and innovation ideas




Horizon 2020 is the European Commission’s proposal to generate ideas, growth and jobs through the world’s largest collaborative programme for research and innovation (2014-2020).


In the transport sector, the Commission will strive for a balanced approach in implementing the programme that takes into account the specifics of each mode (rail, road, waterborne and air transport) while remaining holistic; an approach which reconciles competitiveness with sustainability and which invests both in technology and in relevant socio-economic research.


The four main priorities for transport research under Horizon 2020 are:

1. Making transport more sustainable: resource-efficient transport that respects the environment.

2. Making transport and transport systems seamless: better mobility, less congestion, greater safety and security.

3. Keeping transport competitive: the European transport industry as a global leader.

4. Making transport research responsive: socio-economic research and forward-looking activities for policy-making.

Work carried out in the framework of the Strategic Transport Technology Plan (STTP) will contribute to focusing the transport European research and innovation activities through Horizon 2020. These grants absorb significant time in application and may not be cost effective, especially for start-up companies with high-risk technology they are looking to develop. The patent system also works against innovators, in that copyright is free, trademarks are affordable, but inventions cost an arm and leg and last just 20 years - which it has been proven is about the time to market for disruptive technology - so a complete waste of time and more drain on scant resources.


Horizon and Technology Strategy Board grants are thus sweeteners for academia and large corporations, but do nothing to foster sole traders and independent entrepreneurs - which is where many of the freshest ideas come from.









MOT test stations:

Transport_engineering - Traffic_congestion - Road_transport

Thomas_Telford - Road - Highway_engineering





Blue Bird World Cup


The Blue Bird World Cup trophy is awarded to the team that accrues the most points in a given time frame against the Cannonball International ZEV Run series, the rules of which are HERE.












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