Transportation is no doubt the catalyst for growth and development in most economies today. Without transportation most economies will not thrive. However the demand for transportation often overwhelms the available facilities for much of the time, resulting in severe constraints to flow. While efforts are on going to address the shortfalls in supply, the rate of traffic growth mainly caused by the ever growing urban populations coupled with greater affinity to own cars and lack of space within the urban conurbations to accommodate more expansion of road facilities naturally imposes a constraint in the movement of persons and goods from one place to the other.

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Issues regarding the demand for transportation (Transportation Planning) and the provisions of facilities to help in these movements (Design and Construction) will be addressed in this blog.  Mere provision of facilities to support the demand has proven inadequate in ensuring unhindered traffic flows. As traffic grows in the midst of inadequate infrastructure and constraints in the flow, proven techniques for establishing traffic controls and ensuring free flow regimes (Capacity evaluations) will be used to explain delays and queues on highways for safe and convenient travel. As trips are imposed on road links, the magnitude of the loads coupled with the stress imposed on the pavement materials result in degradation and failure of pavement materials. Maintenance management and techniques will be employed to hints on appropriate handling of different maintenance problems.

Travel along highway segments involves the use of links and junctions to complete a trip. Junctions in particular are problematic as they involve merging, diverging, and cross movement of drivers heading to their destinations through them.  In some situations junctions may need to be signalised or grade separated for effective movements through them. Even when sufficient measures have been taken to ensure steady progression, traffic may be slow due to disturbances from within and outside the road system. Interactions between vehicles themselves may often slow down traffic due to a slower leading vehicle or a faster lagging vehicle catching up with a slower vehicle up front. Driver curiosity or other unexplained behaviour (Phantom jam) may result in speed reduction and build up of traffic. If the road section is unable to accommodate the surge in traffic flow due to inter-vehicular interactions queues will form and congestion may result. Modern techniques of managing congestion will thus be invoked to deal with congestion and traffic instabilities.

Disturbances to traffic flows outside of the road system are more easily discernible.  On-street parking, road works, traffic signals, roadside activities, weather elements, accidents are common disturbances to traffic flow. Whereas the disturbances could be planned to minimise the impacts on traffic flow, the weather component is less predictable in scale and extent. Incorporating weather prediction into traffic flow measurements would enable an assessment of the impact of weather elements on traffic flow to be measured.

Surface road networks are such that different hierarchies of roads are linked to form a network. Lower hierarchies of roads often discharged traffic into roads high up in the hierarchy. Driver behaviour on each of these road types may differ due mainly to the form of control in place. Drivers are known for inconsistent behaviour even on similar facilities. Hence road signage is an important tool for informing and guiding drivers on the highways. Poor signage or a lack of it invites chaos and accidents become rampant. This blog will point out the benefits of clear, visible and consistent pavement marking on road performance.

Other road users such as pedestrians often conflict with drivers at intersections and in highly pedestrianised locations. This requires an understanding of pedestrian movement patterns to address the issue of conflict between pedestrians and motorists.

Finally this blog will seek to address employment opportunities for practicing engineers, the training and re-training of transportation officials and education of future transportation engineers and officials. Tip bits on procurement of road jobs and tender hints will also be presented. Modern construction equipment in the construction of highways, pavement marking, parking meters and equipment, surveying and monitoring of traffic flows, data collection and analysis tools as well as software in the efficient production of transportation services and products will be posted from time to time.

Keep a date with this blog to get content on transportation best practices and skills.



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