Pondering a life without roads

by | Jun 18, 2018 | EVs, Sustainability

I doubt that I will encounter a time without roads in my lifetime. Some view it as a goal, some that it is a fantasy and some that it just will not happen. Whatever the future there is one constant and that is change.

Consider what has happened in your lifetime in terms of telephone, computers and cars, even the kitchen tap can provide boiling water at a turn. All these “developments” have come about through innovation and somebody or groups of bodies having an idea, a concept, something that just might work even though it is different. On a daily basis we are bombarded with information on the latest regarding smart technology in the world of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles together with the application of “big data” to inform and assist.

As yet, and I would venture to suggest for the foreseeable future, we are not travelling everywhere off the ground on hover boards and vehicles so we need transport corridors and these we know as roads. We have seen developments over the years around materials, components and processes used during the construction and maintenance of roads. The part we all drive on is but one part, albeit an important and key part, of the whole.

The highway industry must emulate other industries and continually evolve through innovation and change for the better. When did Google or Dyson stop innovating and developing the next generation of their products? Our industry must do the same and have that look forward as the future is demanding; the only thing we can do with the past is enjoy the memories and learn from it.

The highway construction and maintenance business in the UK is wide ranging and large given that the national asset is worth around some £700-800 billion. We must ensure it has a future and continually develop ways to protect the investment for the generations to come. What legacy will any of us leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren regarding the highway infrastructure?

It is absolutely essential that we take the opportunity through the use of innovative materials, components and processes to reap many benefits in the construction and maintenance of the UK highway infrastructure ranging from improved durability, efficiency and sustainability to enhanced safety, comfort and reliability for all users. Industry has a long track record of delivering innovative solutions to both current and anticipated needs through the actions of individual organisations and in collaboration with clients.

That is exactly why the Mineral Products Association is working with Highways UK on the Materials Innovation Hub, which will form a major new component to the 2018 Highways UK at the NEC on 7/8 November. This is an opportunity for all concerned with the highway industry to showcase their innovation whatever it may be. The Materials Innovation Hub is looking to unravel, learn and encourage from the industry those innovations that are able to offer solutions to real world highway client challenges in the here and now together with the future.

I chair the Materials Innovation Hub steering committee and we are now looking for innovative ideas in the materials, components and processes used during the construction and maintenance of UK highways projects. The MIH is competition based and organised in categories covering efficiency of pavement materials; infrastructure and structures around the pavement; on the pavement; safety; and future highways. Short-listed entries invited to present at Highways UK in front of a panel of expert judges using a “dragon’s den” style format.

Stephen Child is Chair of ADEPT’s Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group, ADEPT and also Chair of the Materials Innovations Hub steering committee

You will find more information at www.highways-uk.com

To enter the competition use the form here

For further information email Richie Stubbs


Stephen Child

Stephen Child – Stephen Child, Chair of ADEPT’s Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group