Wednesday, 16 February 2011

All Roadworks Lead to Home

Spring is here and todays cartoon celebrates the blossoming of roadworks everywhere on my commute to work as Councils who have let us to endure weeks of potholes after the tough winter frantically try and use up their road maintenance budget before the next financial year.

Ok the wintry weather may have left us with 1/3 of Scotlands roads in 'unacceptable condition' but why have they decided to make all their repairs at once?

At the risk of sounding like an ill-informed Jeremy Clarkston I think the Romans could teach us alot about road construction at this time.  Non residential roads should be flat and not littered in speed bumps, traffic calming and pot holes.  Nor do we need electronic traffic signs that smile at you when you are doing the speed limit or cycle lanes in areas where cyclists prefer to use the back streets.

Roman roads were a major feat of engineering.  They weren't the first to build roads, the Persians had a system of public roads but at the height of their power the Romans had 29 great military highways leading to Rome and 80,500km of paved roads.  When the Romans withdrew from Britain the roads remained in use as major trunk roads and even today some modern roads overlie the ancient roads including the Fosse Way which used to run close to my Nanna's village in Nottinghamshire.

The Romans used cement in their road construction but it was left to the Arabs to use tar on their roads in the 8th century AD.  Eventually we came to modern tarmac which is smeared lightly on our roads and forms the bumpy coating on pot holes and speed bumps that we drive on today (or in my case stay stationery on waiting in traffic jams).

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