How Civil Engineers Improve the Structural Design of the US Roadways

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The United States roads are a constant project that is probably more detailed and complex than you might initially think. Originally inspired by the network of high speed roads he saw in Germany during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower championed the passing of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. The law funded the first 41,000 miles of paved road that made up the early U.S. interstate system, which now boasts 46,876 miles and runs through every one of the 50 states. Civil engineers were a big part of this project and are an even bigger part of the maintenance and design of today?s U.S. roads.

The maintenance of today?s U.S. roads

U.S. roads will pretty much lead you to anywhere in the country. You can easily jump into your vehicle and drive to any U.S. state and city. One of the most important civil engineer services of today is maintaining the structural design of these important roads. Roads are made out of a material that eventually breaks down over time. This can cause cracks and holes in the road, eventually leading to unsafe driving conditions. Currently, nearly a third of all highway fatalities are related to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards. Civil engineer professionals and geotechnical engineering consultants are constantly working to improve these problematic roads.

The design of new road materials

Another important task sourced to civil engineering professionals is finding new road materials that more durable and last longer. There have already been many road improvements since the initial design and build of the U.S. freeways. Although it will take many years, older road materials will eventually be replaced with new materials. While these roads are being replaced, new material discoveries will come out and this results in a consistent need for civil engineers.

The evaluation of current roads and other structures

Sometimes maintaining and rebuilding a road is not within the state or city budget. Yet, this does not mean that residents should still continue to drive on a roadway or bridge that is unsafe. More than 25% of the bridges in the United States need significant repairs or are handling more traffic than they were designed to carry. Even if a rebuild is not in the budget, sometimes repairs can be made or the road can be temporarily shut down to prevent accidents or injuries. The government is getting better are increasing U.S. road and bridge requirements for safety.

Transportation planning needs

The U.S. population is continually growing, meaning even more roadways are needed than ever before. Because many of the current roadways and bridges are handling more traffic than initially planned for, new roads need to be designed and built. Civil engineering professionals play an important role in the structural design of transportation planning. The importance of transportation planning meets a need for the structural design of a city?s current population, as well as the estimation of future populations. The purpose of transportation planning needs to include both aspects to ensure that the city has a good flow of traffic, enough roads to meet the city?s needs, and structural designs that make sense for the specific city.

Much of the country relies on U.S. roads to get from one destination to another. It doesn?t matter if you are simply transporting from your house to your place of employment or if you are using the roads to travel across the country, they are an important part of the U.S. makeup. Civil engineers are in an extremely valuable role with maintain, repairing, evaluating, and designing new road ways.