NR2C-New Road Construction Concepts. Towards reliable, green, safe&smart; and human infrastructure in Europe. Part A: From the vision to developments required.
Today, a world without roads, cars, motorcycles and bicycles is almost unimaginable. The entire road infrastructure with its diversity of transport concepts now has a prominent − almost dominant – position in our society. The question is therefore not so much whether there will still be a road infrastructure in the future, but rather how will society view these mobility facilities in, say, thirty or forty years’ time. Comparing the road infrastructure and means of transport of today with those of forty years ago, it becomes clear that in the next forty years’ time everything will again look a lot different to how it looks today. Societies are constantly developing and, consequently so are people’s requirements regarding the use, structure and design of the road infrastructure − not just roads in urban areas (urban roads), but also the motorways (interurban roads) between the major European cities. It is also quite conceivable that the future construction and design of infrastructure constructions such as bridges and tunnels will be subject to different requirements. In view of the lengthy time span of 10 to 15 years between planning infrastructure facilities and its actual completion, followed by an operational period of at least 25 years, more clarity of these future needs, demands and requirements becomes essential in order to make the right choices for today. Making the future more identifiable and tangible reveals the gaps of knowledge and indicates which new technologies will have to be developed to meet the future demands and requirements. Besides generic developments like shortage of clean environment, space and energy, spotting and extrapolating the social and economical trends and technical advances offer starting- points for forming a more realistic image of the future and the associated needs and demands related to road transport. The results of these exercises have been presented by NR2C in its document “New Road Construction Concepts: Vision 2040”. Within the framework of this NR2C project, this vision is a realistic and most likely description of future society and shows what the world might look like in (in this case) thirty-five years and how society thinks about use, design construction and maintenance of infrastructure for the coming decades. This Vision 2040 has provided the basis of NR2C’s aim to identify and specify the research activities, required in road engineering to guaranty to some extend convenient, comfortable and reliable ground transport in the next decades. The document “Facing the future – developments required” is a follow up of NR2C’s Vision 2040 report and looks more deeply into the research activities required to produce real progress in facing the future demands of society, road authorities and other stakeholders. For a better understanding of this finishing touch and placing NR2C’s recommendations in the right framework, relevant passages from the Vision 2040 document will return in this present document.