“Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Roads and highways become one of the important part
of today’s social and economical development.
But how does it come into existence?
From where did it all started?
It is interesting to know evolution of roads happened
only after the development of different modes of
At the earliest roads was nothing but just a trail
formed by people moving on the same path repeatedly.
It can be called as footpaths. Animals were also used
for carrying men and materials. The paths then
formed were muddy and can be affected by changing
After the invention of wheel, the animals were used by
the men with different carts to move or to carry things
around. So, the walking trails were not enough during
times of heavy rains or dry. This brought up the
necessity of hard surface roads.
Such paved roads are first said to be discovered around
4000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq. Those
were hard and made up of stones.
Romans are known as the pioneer of road construction on a
large scale. They constructed about 9,000 km of length in order
to move their soldiers around the country
The main characteristics of Roman Roads –
They constructed as straight as possible regardless the gradients,
in order to travel as quickly as they could.
The base of roads was prepared by hard sedimentary rocks
The second layer was prepared by pebbles and crushed stones
The next to second layer was prepared crushed stones mixed
The final or the upper layer was formed by hard paved stones.
Kerb was given to both sides of road.
Pierre-Marie-Jerome Tresaguet (1716 – 1796) - He
was a French engineer and best known for his new
improved methodology for road construction.
According to him it is not necessary to prepare the top
with heavy stones, instead small and broken stones
can be used.
The benefit of this top-layer was that it was rammed or
rolled by traffic the stones jammed into one another
forming a strong wear resistant surface which offered
less obstruction to traffic.
John Metcalf (1717–1810) - John Metacalf also known
as Blind Jack of Knaresborough or Blind Jack Metcalf.
He was responsible for the construction of about
290km of road in the northern region of England.
Metcalf realized the importance of good drainage
systems beside the roads. He believed that a good
must have a good drainage system, knowing it was rain
that caused most problems on the roads.
Telford construction (1757-1834)
Thomas Telford was the founder of Institution of Civil
Engineers in London.
He believed that by using heavy foundation stones
above the sub grade, the road will be more firm.
He proposed to provide cross drains a intervals about
They were usually laid below foundation level as the
intersects were large enough to allow the water to
percolate from top to bottom of the construction and
thus soften the level of sub grade.
Macadam’s method gained recognition as the most
scientific method of construction.
It was realized that the stress due to wheel load of traffic
get decreased at the lower level of pavement., therefore it is
not necessary to provide large stones as foundation.
Instead the sub grade was used with a cross slope of 1 in 36
to facilitate sub grade drainage.
This method became very popular. Various subsequent
methods were based on Macadam’s construction are still
used after his name such as water bound macadam
(WBM), penetration macadam and bituminous macadam.
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