Observing adequate standards of user comfort

• Ensuring permanent readiness for service;

• Preventing harm to the health of users or damage to vehicles through vibration or shocks;

• Keeping overall economic costs (construction and maintenance) to a minimum;

• Keeping environmental impacts (environment-friendly maintenance, economic use of material resources, recycling) to a minimum.

The networks of minor rural roads intended for agricultural and forestry use in different countries are often quite extensive. Total investment costs can amount to several billion ECU in the larger countries, and even in densely populated smaller countries. The associated maintenance costs can quickly add up to several hundred million U.S. dollars. In Switzerland, for example, the network covers a total of 60,000 km, for which the maintenance costs amount to about U.S. $70 million a year, to be paid for by the owners (individuals, cooperatives, local authorities). In such circumstances, it is worthwhile observing basic road maintenance planning principles, which will allow a clear overall view of the size, extent, and conditions of the road network. These are particularly useful when it comes to the technical and financial planning of the annual maintenance program. It is equally essential to make the road owners and political and public authorities aware of the importance of professional maintenance services, so that the necessary funds will be made available to protect the value of such a large investment, through proper maintenance. However, this will be possible only if a comprehensible model is available for the construction, maintenance, and refurbishment of simple roads. Although there are no spectacular ready-made recipes on the market, researchers have been looking into this matter for some time now, and so, there is at least a solid basis on which to work [29, 34].

The main thrust of maintenance on minor rural roads concerns the actual road surface, the essential requirement being maintaining practicability. On roads with little traffic, this involves such factors as the evenness of the surface, both lengthwise and crosswise; the extent of cracked, damaged, or patched spots; surface condition; and so on. The practicability is measured or estimated as a practicability value p, so that, depending on the significance, the burden of traffic, and the practicability requirements, review of the practicability may become necessary. The initial practicability of newly built or extended roads is gradually lost through wear and tear and damage, at first slowly, but if maintenance is neglected, with increasing speed until it falls below an acceptable level. Work then will be urgently needed to restore the road's initial practicability and user safety.

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