Developing our road network
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GUYANA emerged from a plantation society, where roads were primarily designed for industrialisation to move products and provide services, not for growing populations or for use of transportation. Outside of few expectations such as the Demerara Harbour Bridge, Canje Bridge, Soesdyke-Linden Highway, Berbice and Demerara roads that took all of the aforesaid into consideration with an eye to ensure future development, roads were built with a mind-set of just moving products from point A to B.
A modern road system factors in considerations such as safety of vehicle occupants, minimising property damage and bodily harm, noise barriers, hazards, multiple types of vehicles, proximity to home and vulnerable institutions, movement of people, conditions such as run-off or standing water, including trenches and rivers. Understanding these require the study of communities, indigenous geography, human habits, and future development.
News that the construction of a pedestrian overpass is moving apace on the East Bank of Demerara is a step in the right direction and the first of its kind here. Infrastructural development sparks ideas, brings new development and opportunities for jobs, entrepreneurship/commerce, timely movement, and so forth. Building an overpass engineering feasibility is expected to examine issues such as flooding and water-lodging, which can affect the foundation.
We have to build a road system that can withstand our climatic conditions such as water/flood, heat, and wind. Anything that is elevated, irrigation has to be a factor as run-off water has to be properly directed to minimise flooding, the structure from sinking, impeding traffic, creating bodily harm and millions of dollars in property damage.
Road network development in our society is limited to intersections with traffic lights, circles, overpasses and bridges and should be discussed and evaluated from economic, ecological and social perspectives as to feasibility and not merely to satisfy an immediate need.
It is not unfair to say that the traffic light system is in dire need of overhaul. The present structure leads to chaos and confusion in stopping, parking and the presence of slow-moving vehicles aka donkey cart, pedestrian and animals in the flow of traffic pose threat to life, limb and the economy. An updated light system could come after proper study of the traffic flow, peak and off-peak periods, flow between primary and secondary roads to determine intervals when lights should be red or green on the main road to accommodate secondary roads.
Many of our roads weren’t built for the present volume of traffic, load and modern vehicles. With so many more vehicles, including heavy duty, not catered for, the structures are cracking. Roads are constantly being resurfaced and there are more casualties due to speeding and proximity of the roads to the homes and this area too is deserving of attention.
Some societies build roads where the concrete or gravel is poured within a structure rather than be the structure, which ensures rigidity and keeping of form. Our boundaries to the road tend to be trenches and the roads tend to crack or change its shape, making it a hazard for users. In some areas as a result of repairs that has seen years of packing dirt it is making it difficult for the disabled and elderly to get in and out of their homes. A modern system will factor in loads, which means building with a foundation and barrier so that the shape will be maintained and repairs and maintenance will be less expensive in the long run. There has to be sustainable methods behind everything that is done and we need a road system that can accommodate and withstand at least double the amount of traffic we will have in the next 20 years.

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