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NR2C
New Road Construction Concept

What will the European road system look like in 2040? How can innovation deliver solutions to the challenges of the future? These are the two questions which NR2C aims to answer. NR2C provides a long-term vision of road infrastructure, based on new concepts, and develops specific innovations to support this vision in three areas: urban, interurban and bridges.

Tags: Road

Background

European civil infrastructure systems represent huge public investments and they are expected to provide service for very long periods of time. This means that future developments in the transport of goods and people must be assessed and planned well in advance. Looking ahead to the future and considering the probable developments in society requires a search for proper solutions.

Furthermore, the enlargement of the European Union has heightened the acute need for a sustainable integrated European surface transport network. Even if there are different starting points for deciding on the future, between Eastern and Central Europe on the one hand and Western Europe on the other, the future for the various regions of Europe will not differ. Freedom of travel and communication, as well as freedom of exchanging information and technology will contribute to the creation of a similar basic level of needs and demands all over Europe. The national and regional cultures, the economic situation and the political leanings of the authorities will determine the priority and speed of implementing trends and developments, but the main differences will become equalised in the year 2040. All the countries are or will be confronted by a shortage of clean environment, energy and space, with an increasing demand for mobility.

Objectives

NR2C is a quest for conceptual and technical answers to the mobility and transport demands of the future. It aims to generate future-oriented initiatives for accessibility problems and issues related to road infrastructure. It will develop long-term perspectives, concrete pilot studies and research recommendations, linking long-term visions and ideas to short-term actions.

The vision can be considered as a focal point for policy-makers and engineers in taking the right decisions concerning use, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure.

Innovations developed in each of the three areas – urban, interurban and bridges – are in accordance with concepts identified in the vision (reliable, smart and safe, green, and human).

In urban areas, the development of design models for multi-modal platforms and the development of eco-infrastructure which mitigates road traffic pollution answer to the human and green objectives.

In interurban areas, two studies aim at reducing consumption of rare resources and supporting the recycling of material or using waste. Another one limits the disturbance to the road users by improving the maintenance process.

With bridges, the needs are for durability, a facility to build and a move towards using light and prefabricated structures made with new materials.

1: Road of the future 2: Eco-infrastructure - Traffic road nuisance mitigation (noise, vibration, air and water pollution)
1: Road of the future 2: Eco-infrastructure - Traffic road nuisance mitigation (noise, vibration, air and water pollution)

Description of work

Based on large surveys carried out on road stakeholders, NR2C will identify safe and environmentally friendly infrastructure construction and maintenance concepts. Innovative concepts will be ranked and the most promising developed for further studies, aimed at establishing feasibility and clarifying unsolved problems.

NR2C is divided into work packages (WP): WP0 – vision, WP1 – urban and suburban infrastructure, WP2 – interurban infrastructure, WP3 – bridges. Special care will be taken with dissemination and clustering in WP4.

NR2C will be carried out in three phases:

Phase 1 – survey and analysis: this phase is designed to clearly identify future user needs and expectations. It consists of enquiries, surveys, focus workshops and brainstorming sessions to build the vision. In parallel, state-of-the-art reports on innovations in urban and interurban areas and concerning bridges are provided.

Phase 2 – assessment and selection: during this phase, innovations, feasibility studies and preliminary models are carefully assessed and the most promising ones selected for further development.

Phase 3 – testing and recommendations: innovations selected in Phase 2 will undergo detailed design, laboratory or pilot tests, which will lead to specific recommendations.

This work will culminate with the mid-term workshop and the final seminar.

Results

NR2C will provide 24 deliverables.

NR2C Vision is based on four key concepts – reliable, green, smart and safe, and human – converted to ideas for solutions and future research areas.

In urban areas, the two innovations studied are:

  • development of design models that can be used as a tool to assess urban projects
  • eco-technic infrastructure, which combines the most innovative technologies to mitigate road nuisance: noise, vibration, air and water pollution. The most original work is relevant to air pollution with the development of a prototype able to abate pollution rates.

In interurban areas, four innovations are studied:

  • high-performance underlayers with low-cost materials and high percentages of re-uses: layers with a different ratio of reclaimed asphalt are submitted to durability and fatigue tests
  • crack-free semi-rigid pavement: the aim is to demonstrate the feasibility
  • optimisation of maintenance process: based on rating trees by analysing the influence of bad climatic conditions, the aim is to provide effective solutions
  • roadway perception using infrared technology: it demonstrates how infrared characteristics of a road environment scene can be used to improve a driver’s vision under bad conditions

In the bridge section, elements of slab will be designed with new materials, which can be used alone for small bridges or be supported by structural elements for greater spans.

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