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Encyclopedia > Road vehicle
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Disruptions in organized traffic flow can create delays lasting hours.

Road transport or road transportation is transport on roads, i.e. most transport over land which is not rail transport in the wide sense.


A hybrid of road transport and ship transport is the historic horse-drawn boat.

Contents

History

Early Transport

The first forms of road transport were horses or oxen carrying goods over dirt tracks that often followed game trails. As commerce increased, the tracks were often flattened or widened to accommodate the activities.


Roman Roads

With the advent of the Roman Empire, there was a need for armies to be able to travel quickly from one area to another, and the roads that existed were often muddy, which greatly delayed the movement of large masses of troops. To resolve this issue, the Romans built great roads. The Roman roads used deep roadbeds of crushed stone as a underlying layer to ensure that they kept dry, as the water would flow out from the crushed stone, instead of becoming mud in clay soils. The legions made good time on these roads and some are still used millennia later.


On the more heavily traveled routes, there were additional layers that included six sided capstones, or pavers, that reduced the dust and reduced the drag from wheels. The pavers allowed the Roman chariots to travel very quickly, ensuring good communication with the Roman provinces. Farm roads were often paved first on the way into town, to keep produce clean. Early forms of springs and shocks to reduce the bumps were incorporated in horse drawn transport, as the original pavers were sometimes not perfectly aligned.

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This article is part
of the Transport series
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Animal-powered
Aviation
Human-powered
Ship
Rail
Road

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More topics | The future

Industrial Revolution

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, steam powered engines were developed, but most were too heavy for common roads, and were implemented on railroads, where the weight could be isolated to supporting rails, which also reduced the friction or drag. Of notable interest is that common British rail gauge is the same width as the Roman chariot wheelbase, as that was the common width for carts ever since.


Tarmac

At the time of the Industrial Revolution, and because of the increased commerce that came with it, improved roadways became imperative. The problem was rain combined with dirt roads created commerce miring mud. A Scotsman named McAdam designed the first modern highways. He developed an inexpensive paving material of soil and stone aggregate (aptly known as macadam), and he embanked roads a few feet higher than the surrounding terrain to cause water to drain away from the surface (and hence the birth of the term highway.) When his substance was tarred to reduce erosion, it became known as tarmacadam, or tarmac.


Pneumatic Tires

As the horse-drawn carriage was replaced by the automobile and lorry or truck, and speeds increased, the need for smoother roads and less vertical displacement became more apparent, and pneumatic tires were developed to decrease the apparent roughness.


Toll Roads in the United States

A toll road in the United States is often called a turnpike. The term turnpike may have originated from the turnstile or gate which blocked passage until the fare was paid at a toll house (or toll booth in current terminology).


History, funding through tolls

Companies were formed to build, improve, and maintain a particular section of roadway, and tolls were collected from users to finance the enterprise. The enterprise was usually named to indicate the locale of its roadway, often including the name of one of both of the termini. The word turnpike came into common use in the names of these roadways and companies, and is essentially used interchangeably with toll road in current terminology.


In the United States, toll roads began with the Lancaster Turnpike in the 1790s, within Pennsylvania, connecting Philadelphia and Lancaster.


In New York State, the Great Western Turnpike was started in Albany in 1799 and eventually extended, by several alternate routes, to near what is now Syracuse, New York.


Toll roads peaked in the mid 19th century, and by the turn of the twentieth century most toll roads were taken over by state highway departments.


With the development, mass production, and popular embrace of the automobile, faster and higher capacity roads were needed. In the 1920s limited access highways appeared. Their main characteristics were dual roadways with access points limited to (but not always) grade-separated interchanges. Their dual roadways allowed high volumes of traffic, the need for no or few traffic lights along with relatively gentle grades and curves allowed higher speeds. Bicyclists also campaigned for good roads early on.


The first limited access highways were Parkways, so called because of their often park-like landscaping and, in the metropolitan New York City area, they connected the region's system of parks. When the German Autobahns built in the 1930s introduced higher design standards and speeds, road planners and road-builders in the United States started developing and building toll roads to similar high standards. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, which largely followed the path of a partially-built railroad, was the first, opening in 1940.


After 1940 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, toll roads saw a resurgence, this time to fund limited access highways. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, after World War II interrupted the evolution of the highway, the US resumed building toll roads. They were to still higher standards and one road, the New York State Thruway, had standards that became the prototype for the U.S. Interstate Highway System. Several other major toll-roads which connected with the Pennsylvania Turnpike were established before the creation of the Interstate Highway System. These were the Indiana Toll Road, Ohio Turnpike, and New Jersey Turnpike.


Interstate Highway System

By 1956, most limited access highways in the eastern United States were toll roads. In that year, the federal Interstate highway program was established, funding non-toll roads with 90% federal dollars and 10% state match, giving little incentive for states to expand their turnpike system. Funding rules initially restricted collections of tolls on newly funded roadways, bridges, and tunnels. In some situations, expansion or rebuilding of a toll facility using Interstate Highway Program funding resulted in the removal of existing tolls. This occurred in Virginia on Interstate 64 at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel when a second parallel roadway to the regional 1958 bridge-tunnel was completed in 1976.


Since the completion of the initial portion of the interstate highway system, regulations were changed, and portions of toll facilities have been added to the system. Some states are again looking at toll financing for new roads and maintenance, to supplement limited federal funding. In some areas, new road projects have been completed with public-private partnerships funded by tolls, such as the Pocahontas Parkway near Richmond, Virginia, which features a costly high level bridge over the shipping channel of the James River and connects Interstate 95 with Interstate 295 to the south of the city.


Toll Collection

In Illinois, coins and I-PASS are used in every toll plaza instead of toll tickets. On the east coast, similar systems include EZ-Pass and Smart-Tag. The systems use a small radio transmitter mounted in or on a customer's vehicle to deduct toll fares from a pre-paid account as the vehicle passes through the toll barrier, reducing manpower at toll booths and increasing traffic flow and fuel efficiency by reducing the need for stops to pay tolls at these locations.


Interstate Highway system in U.S.

In the United States, beginning in 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly called the Interstate Highway System was built. It uses 12 foot (3.65m) lanes, wide medians, a maximum of 4% grade, and full access control, though many sections don't meet these standards due to older construction or constraints. This system created a continental-sized network meant to connect every population center of 50,000 people or more.


Road Trains

The least populated and most remote states of Australia have huge truck trailer combinations called road trains.


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
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