The approach to road network development is necessarily different depending on the region in question. This is due to the fact that proper network development practices are dependent on the extent of the network in question, the goals and priorities of the network’s overseers, and the expectations of the commuting public. However, regardless of the scope of a network, recent advancements in network development continue to improve road networks’ affordability, reliability, safety, and environmental impact.
In an area of the world that has had an extensive road network in place for decades, network development would focus on preservation of the existing roadway and maintenance of commuter safety. Advancements in project selection guidelines, innovation of construction materials and practices, and a better understanding of the service life of roadways all contribute to the current status of network development in extensive road systems. It is now known that regularly scheduled, non-intrusive preservation practices provide a cost-effective way of maintaining a road network’s service life that is preferable to a reactive, “worst-first” maintenance schedule. Managers of road networks are devoting more resources to preservation practices because such network development practices are more affordable, are less environmentally intrusive, and they present less of an inconvenience to commuters.
However, in an area of the world with a less extensive road network, the priorities and goals for network development would be entirely different. For example, a road network consisting of a large amount of unpaved roads would have little interest in pursuing preservation practices. Instead, development of such a system would consist of prioritizing roadways based on their level of use, selecting an affordable and appropriate paving method, and determining the optimal location of new roadways in order to maximize civic utility and efficiency.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum of network development a region falls, the road system will undoubtedly play an integral role in questions of civic planning and societal development. In an under-developed area, a road system will provide the first steps toward improved infrastructure. Phone, television and internet service, construction projects, improving civic services such as electricity and waste disposal, etc. All of these civic services rely heavily on road systems. The sooner a society is able to acquire a reliable road network, the sooner they will be able to make advancements in other areas of urban development. For advanced systems, network development is looking forward by prioritizing preservation projects, turning toward greener practices and materials, and investigating new advancements in commuter safety such as integrating infra-red technology into roadways for improved visibility in bad weather conditions. Network development remains an important civic concern regardless of the level of complexity of a road system.
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