R6026 : Environmental impact of road construction

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Theme : T2 - Reduce the costs of construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of road infrastructure to help reduce vehicle operation costs.
Status Current
Institution TRL Limited
Purpose To describe and quantify the physical changes in a steep, unstable, mountainous terrain caused by natural weathering and erosion, and to determine the effect of road construction in accelerating these processes.
Objectives The aim of the research is to optimise road alignment, geometry and the design of protection measures in order to maximise road serviceability and minimise land loss and emergency maintenance. To produce a manual.
Methodologies Site surveys and monitoring have continued on a reduced level to capture changes in the landscape associated with road construction started by a local agency. These results have been incorporated into the last analysis.

Report on the whole monitoring programme.
Outputs TRL (1996). Principles of low cost road design in mountainous regions. TRL Overseas Road Note ORN16. TRL Limited, Crowthorne.
Results The construction of the Arun Access Road in Nepal increased the amount of damage occurring to the slopes over the natural level of instability. The data collected in the course of the project demonstrate the need to adopt careful designs in mountainous areas. The data also reveal the episodic nature of physical changes that occur in a fragile landscape, that can affect infrastructure.

The analysis of data collected during the project enables engineers and environmentalists to predict the types, rates and periodicity of `background' instability characteristic of the Middle Himalayas of Nepal, and to plan projects in a way that takes account of these factors.
Progress Following the completion of this project, IUDD felt that there was a case for further edited dissemination of the output of this study and a report entitled 'Geomorphological processes in Eastern Nepal as a basis for road design' has been published under a new project (D259: Dissemination of Environmental Impacts of Road Construction). The report can be downloaded from the "Other documents" section of this project.
Duration April 1993 - March 1999.
Contact Mr C J Lawrance
Comment As a result of this and other DFID research the Nepalese Department of Works set up and now operates a Geo-environmental Unit whose task is to safeguard all route alignments on the existing and future network.

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