The United States are among the countries, which care about the health and well-being of its citizens and communities. Today the life of people depends on the transportation system a lot. Everyone uses automobiles in his everyday life. Nevertheless, still a lot of public health and environmental concerns are connected with the impact of the roads on the life of people and environment (Appleyard, Gerson, and Lintell 16). Actually, it is a concern of entire humanity. The Red Cross asserts that, by 2020, injuries connected with traffic will have become the third largest reason of death and health problems in the world.
Transportation is a crucial determinant of human life, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has already presented its concerns about the negative influence of the system. World develops rapidly, and new roads appear in response to the social demands.
Road building can provide substantial economic and social benefits to certain communities and national economies in general. However, it is important to remember that it may also cause the long-term environmental changes. People should remember that this influence is extremely destructive and usually irreversible. Many of these road-building impacts can be minimized by using environmentally safe construction and specific operation practices (McCann n. p.).
An environmental damage that comes from road development can be divided into several categories: direct impact, indirect impact, and cumulative impact. At the same time, each of these groups can be also divided into subcategories: positive and negative changes, random and predictable changes, local and widespread changes, long-term and short-term changes.
Unfortunately, construction of a new road has its own influence on the environment. Below is the description of the main factors that road building inflicts:
*Soil erosion. Substantial soil erosion can appear when some water remains on a road surface. This way, road that are not equipped with any drainage systems are unable to cope with precipitations or flooding; consequently, they are damaged by the erosion. In addition, if there is no enough care for the abandoned roads, they can become a source of serious erosion influence.
*Deterioration of water quality. Water quality depends on the careful and appropriate usage of fuel and other technical liquids that can get into the water. Another closely related problem is the global lack of fresh water. In road building, enormous amount of water is used for preparation and construction processes. These activities have a significant influence on the quantity of water in arid areas. They can cause impairment of agriculture production and fish kill, especially if the water for road building is taken in the dry season. Quarries along the roads may create pits, a perfect place for waterborne diseases.
*Changes in hydrology. Hydrological problems can occur if the road project requires material to be added for raising the roadbed over the land surface, especially in case of water crossing. In case of some hydrological changes, one side of the road may be wetter than the other one. Such a situation has a negative impact on agriculture, road stability, and the ecosystem near the road in general. Moreover, badly constructed culverts in wet districts may entrap water and form up-slope or down-slope gullies on the road. Consequently, it may lead to drying up of the wetlands.
*Deforestation. Sometimes there is a need to build a new road through the forest or the area with a huge amount of threes. This goal needs many trees to be felled. Everybody knows about the importance of trees for the environment. Cutting down forests leads to the growth of the ozone holes and dramatic changes in the ecosystem. Consequently, it is not always possible to construct roads that go through the green areas.
*Changes in the ecosystem. Building new roads may negatively affect the integrity of animal population and plant growth. In addition, roads can serve for hunting and trapping of animals. The high-speed roads may cause animal mortality growth. Construction of new roads may influence aesthetic values of the area and later lead to lower earnings from tourism (Spaling, and Smit 590-597).
Except natural losses, building new roads may also create health and safety concerns. Dust and noise from the roads influence the health of human being extremely negatively. Traffic aspects are also important, especially the fact that high-speed roads can become the reason of accidents with people and animals. The influence of road traffic gases (SO2, CO2, CO, NOX, and Hydrocarbons) may lead to health problems also, especially if the road is located in a populated area (Pucher 118).
It is crucial to pay attention to all aspects before starting the construction of a new road. Sometimes usage of air, water, and footpaths are more preferable, especially in case of touristic attractiveness. Alternative ways of transportation can save money, health, and the environment. Nevertheless, if a new road is very important for further development of the economy and well-being of people, it is necessary to plan the construction carefully. First of all, the manager should decide on the amount of vehicles that are expected to be used for this road project. Second, engineers should consider the tonnage that the road will be able to pass every season. Information one gathers will help in planning the right design of the road that will bring balance between environmental security and human needs. The project manager should ensure that there is enough information about the area one wants to use. This will help avoid damages of soils, water resources, and animal world. One should avoid areas, such as canyons, wetlands, and huge rocks. It is always better to ask for the specialist’s assistance in examining the high-risk objects, such as slide structures, bridges, and unstable structures (Mohney n. p.). The road engineer should always try to preserve vegetation along the road. While the building process, only high quality material and equipment should be used, and the constructional plan followed. Of course, these cautions would not eliminate all the problems, but they will help to minimize the damages that can be caused by the road construction.
Moreover, the influence of the new urban roads on the level of injury accidents has not been studied yet. Urban roads are claimed to increase the level of noise in highly populated areas. After years of studying and examining the influence of new roads construction on the environment, it is evident that the disturbance from them could be still detected for 3 years after a new road begins to work (Luker, and Montague n. p.) Other specialists affirm that the influence of a new road is still tangible even after 30 years.
In the age of rapid development of technology, it is difficult to use only old roads. Even they need reconstruction rather often. If not to take care about the old roads, they can cause even more damages than the new ones. Nowadays, road building is considered the priority in the development of any country. It is so, because effective economy needs trade and trade needs the transportation of goods. In some areas, tourism is the main factor of development, so local authorities and businesspeople try to construct roads everywhere possible, to gain more profit. There are examples of extreme constricting of roads in the mountains. Nowadays, people think more about profit than about safety, but the engineer is responsible for security of people in case a new road appears.
Multiple factors should be taken into account. It takes a lot of time and efforts to make a plan of a road that will address all possible concerns. The most substantial negative influence from the rural roads obviously comes from the lack of regular maintenance. Usually it happens because of non-efficient equipment, lack of financial resources, and low level of workers’ professionalism. Trained grader operators can fix any problem of the road surface. Well-organized management plans and professional road personnel are necessary for effective work. In addition, this type of work requires a high level of attention to heavy equipment. Sometimes even easy procedures may not be completed, because some details are broken or no one takes care about the equipment registration. Situations when the equipment is out of order also affect the quality of roads, and it is rather expensive to correct such type of mistakes. To prevent negative results, it is better to predict such looses and include them into the annual budget or take payments from road users (Spaling, and Smit 14).
Moreover, there should be a special training held for the crew regularly, containing all the information about exploitation of roads and prevention of environmental pollution. Furthermore, road camps should be well organized, and special safety plans should be followed. Environmental management should have regular character; also, it needs to be put under control and have a specific timetable, which would be followed. Work plan could be controlled with the help of annual monitoring process, and funding of this type of activity could be a part of a budget expenses. Annual environmental plans need to be checked by independent professionals in order to see the objective situation and make corrections for the future.
To create peaceful and safe future, people need to take care of what they do now. Transportation system is an integral part of human life that has numerous positive sides, but as any other sphere of life, it requires regular attention. While constructing new roads, if one keeps in mind all the information mentioned above, the balance between environmental safety and human needs can be found easily.
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