Remote need not mean restricted thanks to ROADEX
Roads are vital for the remote rural areas of northern Europe, where settlements are sparse, winters cold and distances to markets long. The ROADEX network was set up to guarantee the reliability of these roads, ensuring local residents have access to these community lifelines and to indigenous industries such as fishing, farming and forestry.
“The mass of knowledge we now have thanks to ROADEX will provide us with the tools to make the most of what we have and help to substantiate our need for further investment of our network of rural roads.”
Councilor John Laing, Chairman of TEC Services
By bringing together northern periphery engineers to conduct common research projects and seek common solutions, the project clearly illustrates how innovation can lead to measurable improvements in what could have been considered areas of low innovation potential.
Serviceable and reliable roads
The ROADEX network promotes cooperation between the northernmost regions of Finland, Scotland, Norway and Sweden and all of Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The people and businesses of these areas all share the same problems of mobility and accessibility and are heavily dependent on the provision of serviceable and reliable year-round transportation links.
In the fishing industry in northern Norway and the Scottish Highlands, for example, fresh fish such as salmon or cod must be delivered to central European markets within two days of leaving the factory. Close cooperation with the local road district is therefore necessary to avoid delay.
Ensuring that these local roads remain serviceable and reliable is the main reason for the ROADEX network. The most recent project, ROADEX III, follows on from a three-year pilot project which began in 1998 and a research and innovation project which ran from 2002 to 2005. It set out to exploit the knowledge collected on low volume roads, where daily traffic flows rarely exceed 350 vehicles.
Sharing the know-how
Over 1 000 engineers and managers were introduced to the new ROADEX technologies through the development of a website, the production of practical guides in six languages, seminars for technical staff and decision-makers and an e-learning training package for the maintenance of rural roads in harsh climates and poor ground conditions.
By adopting ROADEX techniques, partners have seen direct, quantifiable benefits in improved road survey systems, drain¬age analyses, risk assessment, examination of health issues and socio-economic considerations. This facilitates the harmonisation of road practices and standards across the partner countries. The existing network has committed itself to continued collaboration on a further project that focuses on the physical implementation of the new ROADEX technologies.