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Estimating Environmental Impacts Of New Roads Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1423 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Main Roads Western Australia Public Environment Report 2008 New Transportation projects nowadays is noticeably increasing across nations all around the world, especially the aspect of constructing new roadway and highway networks, due to the tremendously unstoppable increase in the population of people on earth, thus, the demand of life resources, the need of moving from one place to another (from location A to location B) is also increasing, in response to that governments of different countries are spending billions of dollars each year just to enhance and develop the transportation networks, focusing on the local roadway and highway networks, this movement of development was noticeable after the war world II. C:UsersEmadDocumentsUniversity ProjectsYear 4 ((2012 – 2013))Highway DesignAssignmentsAssignment 1ReferencesRoad and The environment.jpg

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 2008, the United Arab Emirates has paved roads of 4,080 km (including 253 km of expressways), while the United States of America has paved roads of 6,506,204 km, this shows the huge increasing demand on paved roads.

Road projects can be taken as an indication of how urban the country is, the more developed the roadway network the better the economy, because it provides more access to different locations with little travel time, thus it provides more jobs, health services and education. But as they say everything has its own price, developing new roads can have some bad impacts on the environment and the ecosystem surrounding the roads. In this report, both the positive and the negative impacts of new roads and highway on the environment and ecosystem will be discussed, nevertheless the different types of physical environmental impacts.

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Impact of Roads on the Environment

Fragile Nature by Joel Sartore Impact of new roads on the environment is becoming a more serious issue that governments should take care and be aware of, because of the increasing demand on constructing new roadways nowadays, what comes after constructing a new road most of the times is a permanent change with the environment surrounding the road and may develop with time and lead to a serious damage with the ecosystem that can’t be reversed, so reckless planning and constructing of new roads could have a huge impact on the surrounding environment and the ecosystem. On the other hand, well designed and operated new roads could have positive impacts on the environment and the ecosystem, yet sometimes it cost more money to avoid affecting the environment, so engineers and environmental scientists are still trying to develop some new alternatives by using the new modern technology techniques to avoid any interruption that the human kind is causing by dominating the environmental resources without looking at the consequences of the actions. http://images.joelsartore.com/gallery/B/BEA014-00001.jpg

Recently many environmental engineers and scientists are conducting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports to monitor and observe any physical impact on the environment and the ecosystem that may be result because of constructing new roads, the process of the environmental impact assessment may take some time, depending on the size of the project and where it’s located.

Types of Environmental Impacts Resulting from New Roads

There a lot of environmental impacts of constructing new roads and highways that can be observed, they all can be categorised in three points:

Direct Impacts – this impact will take effect in the near future.

Indirect Impacts – this impact will take effect in the far future.

Cumulative Impacts – this impact will take effect in the far future after accumulation.

*All these different impacts could have either a positive or a negative effect on the environment and the ecosystem.

Direct Impacts:

Direct impacts on the environment can directly occur during the process of the new road construction, for example the 1st step of constructing a new road between two cities separated by a green area or farm is removing the greens (trees, plants,…,etc.) to place the road’s gravel and asphalt (pavement), in general direct impacts are easier for the environmental assessment, because they are more predictable than the other two types (the indirect and the cumulative impacts), thus the impacts can be easily controlled to prevent any serious damage on the environment in case of the negative impacts.

Direct Positive Impacts:

Although that the direct impacts may have a lot of negative impacts, they have some positive impacts, for example, rechanneling a river or a water stream might improve the water retention of a village near by the road. Some developed countries are trying to merge the green and urban together, for example constructing new roads with rain retention or drainage systems by including some plants. C:UsersEmadDesktopLawrence Village Road Project 026.jpg

Lawrence Village Road Project (Image by Iron Age)

Direct Negative Impacts:

There are a lot of direct negative impacts that may damage the environment, for example some major roads need to be constructed between major cities, so sometimes the process of construction requires removing or redirecting some obstacles like the flow of a river or water stream which will lead to a huge impact on the ecosystem, the removal of farms and private properties. Air pollution could have the greatest impact on the environment (CO2 vehicles emissions) and noise pollution which all have negative effect on the ecosystem surrounding the road.

Indirect Impacts:

Indirect impacts can be also known as chain impacts, from the name we can tell that chain impacts require time to develop which will be hard to observe and measure during the construction of the new road.

Indirect Positive Impacts:

some new modern roads that are being constructed have some facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists, thus this might help to reduce the impact of air pollution by reducing the number of vehicle users (CO2 emissions), likewise some new roads has a special lane for buses which will encourage people to use the bus more often and this might also decrease the air pollution.

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Indirect Negative Impacts:

When it comes to negative indirect impacts, the 1st thing comes is deforestation and the decline in forest animals and bird species, in 1994 Rich et al. drew attention with his report that the reduction and extinction of some bird species is primary because of new roads (noise and light). In 1982 Burke & Sherburne examined the population of wildlife of mammals and birds during and after construction of new roads, they found there is a little movement of both mammals and birds densities to different places.

Cumulative Impacts:

These types of environmental impacts could be called as silent impacts, because the results of these impacts will need time to accumulate.

Cumulative Negative Impacts:

Global warming could be one of the cumulative impacts, many scientists are referring to the incremental percentages of CO2 for the last 5 decades, where they come from the emissions of factories, nevertheless, the vehicles emissions, thus, constructing new roads means more vehicles and more CO2 emissions.

Environmental Impact Assessment is the Solution

Environmental Impact Assessment also known as EIA, it should take place whenever there is a project that wanted to be constructed, the purpose of this environmental assessment is to check and consider every predictable impact (positive or negative) that may occur or affect the environment, it can be performed by taking study corridors, for example for green field roads a corridor of 10 — 100 km should be considered along the road that is being constructed, in order to assess and predict any changes that may occur surrounding that new road.


As what we have seen in this report there are a lot of impacts may occur because of constructing new roads, some are positive impacts and some are negative impacts, some will occur in the long-term and some will occur in the short-term, so in order to control and to predict them environmental impact assessments (EIA) need to be done before constructing any new roads for a better environmentally friendly future.


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