The movement of people and goods via Road is a vital component of the contemporary world, but do you know how to build road projects in a Sustainable Manner?
The transportation infrastructure enhances the connectivity among human settlements. But this also results in declined connectivity among remaining natural habitats and wildlife populations. Various studies around the world suggest that the transportation infrastructure has significantly invaded the land, river and forest of natural habitats.
To understand how to minimise the impact of road project over the wildlife population, first, we need to understand how road project affects them.
There are four key points to understand here:
Most of the animals move in the predefined path in the search of their daily resources like food, water, etc. New road projects do not necessarily consider the impact of the project on those predefined paths. As a result, knowingly or unknowingly, the new road projects intrude to their predefined path and severely impact the wildlife population.
Mortality from Road Accident with live traffic
are scary to the animals, to say the least. And if it comes to their predefined path, the entire transition phase for them to realise not to use that path is the most delicate period where they come across in contact with live traffic and face fatal accidents. And remember its not only animals, but it also applies to Bats in-case of elevated road bridges, Fishes in case of deep and wide bridge footings, all those infrastructures basically create severe hindrances to predefined paths.
The uproar caused by dust, light, noise and heavy metal pollution
I think this one is easier for you to understand if you are living in the urban jungle of our times where trees are few in numbers and apartments are in thousands. With no choices in hand, you may have to live with that but certainly, the wildlife habitats can’t.
Increased human access
This one is also no brainer, increased human access and intrusion cause serious disturbance to their peaceful life and also increased exploitation activities such as hunting are the biggest concern for natural habitats.
This means, no one likes a highspeed motorway close to their doorstep, then why we accept it from natural habitats. It's not for their use at all anyway.
How to minimise the impact of the Road Projects
Now let’s discuss what we can do minimise the impact of road project on the wildlife population.
Optimum utilisation of existing Assets for sustainable development rather than demanding more
Do you know how and when road projects are considered as saturated and need further improvement by either road widening or an entirely new bypass or highway?
For this, you need to have little knowledge of Traffic Engineering. Check out this Traffic Engineering Course
In simple terms, if Peak hour traffic attends a Level of Service (LOS) E or F, it means the road is close to the saturation level. and it needs further improvement by road widening or new greenfield road.
But do you know what is the duration of peak hour in a day? Its roughly 8 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 7 pm. This means in total 24 hours, a road attends saturation level for 4 to 5 hours and it is advised that it attends saturation level and need the road widening.
This is clearly not an optimum utilisation of resources. There are various ways and means by which government can incentivise businesses to re-distribute the working hours and level out the peak hours. By doing this we can further utilise the same infrastructure for a longer period.
Improvement of Existing Road is the preferred option than building a new greenfield highway.
In-case of further improvement, it's very important to consider widening the existing road than developing a completely new highway. That’s where Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecological Assessment play a very important road.
A greenfield new project is easy and faster to build but remember these roads are going to last for many centuries. Our natural assets in the form of land are a limited and premium resource and we must exploit them carefully.
Widening of the existing road is a complex process and construction phasing, traffic management & diversion, underground utility diversion, etc are a very tedious and time-consuming process. But that’s where our latest technologies, BIM Model
and latest construction techniques play a vital role. Ultimately nothing would be better than utilising the same road with modern assets such as Variable Message Signs, advance Road Restraint systems
, etc and minimum impact on our environment and ecology.
Ecological Experts must be part of the Road Projects Team.
Infrastructure development plays a very important role in the economic growth of a country. However, it doesn’t mean that environment and ecology need to compromise to accommodate rapid infrastructure development.
Pro-development vision and environmental protection both can go hand in hand, it’s not one way or other. That’s where the environmental and ecological experts play a very important role. A collective and collaborative approach to analyse the issues, mitigate the risk and maintaining a fine balance between the development and environment is the mantra.
Wildlife Protection needs a long term planning and execution process
Long-term planning is required to maintain the natural and wildlife reserve. For this, a condition assessment process needs to be carried out. It is very similar to the Asset Management process that is carried out to manage physical infrastructure like private roads, airport, etc.
Ecological Management Authority or similar organisation needs to be set-up to work collectively with the infrastructure development organisation. Clear ownership of Wildlife issues needs to be identified and appropriate mitigation measures need to be proposed. The technical capability and experience of construction companies to perform wildlife management must be part of the tender process.
Imagine a world where we build a sustainable infrastructure where mankind and natural habitats both co-exist with harmony, where we do not exploit the natural resources only for our benefits. And all this is completely possible if we use the latest design and construction practices to develop any new infrastructure to meet our future needs.
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