Checking climate-robust roads in just a few steps

Published: 30 July 2014

From October onwards, European road directors will be able to identify, in just a few quick steps, the sections of their road networks that are most vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Deltares is currently working with a number of European partners on a quick scan for motorways.

Extra-vulnerable sections of road

Yesterday, on 28 July, rainfall was so intense that motorways in the Netherlands were flooded in many places. Locally, 150 mm of rain fell during the day. That is well above the limits for which the motorways were designed, but this rain was indeed an extreme event. Low-lying roads, sections with several lanes, bends and stretches with closed surfaces (in other words without very open asphalt concrete) are particularly vulnerable.

Collaboration with KNMI, EGIS and SGI

It is widely known that the intensity and frequency of cloudbursts and heavy rain of this kind will only increase as our climate changes. So Deltares has teamed up with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), EGIS (a French engineering firm) and SGI (a Swedish geo-engineering institute) to develop a quick scan for motorways. The quick scan will be developed for all the road directors in Europe (CEDR, Conference of European Directors of Roads) in the European research programme ROADAPT. It will allow them to see which parts of the road networks are vulnerable to extreme rainfall, but also to other forces of nature such as floods or long periods of hot weather.

Strategies for the appropriate measures at the appropriate time

The scan shows the road directors where the vulnerable sections are at the moment and sketches out possible future developments on the basis of known climate scenarios. The scan is also used to develop strategies that road directors can use to decide when the appropriate steps should be taken, examples being the deployment of additional pumps, increasing the size of gutters and drains bordering motorways, or changes in management and maintenance strategies.

Completion planned for October

The quick scan will be completed in October.

Klimaatbestendigheid van wegen in een paar stappen te bepalen