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Engineering of the Lebanese Roads

Engineering of the Lebanese Roads  
     
In general, roads should supply good facilities for travel and transport between countries, different parts of a country or within smaller areas. This means that roads should provide good accessibility, good transport quality and short travel time at low transport costs. In addition, roads should supply these utilities under safe and environmentally friendly conditions.  Furthermore, roads could contribute to better equality and balance between different parts of a country. The development and management (planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation) of a road network, therefore, should aim at achieving the best balance between such transport policy objectives under prevailing budget restrictions. All objectives, including safety, should be taken into account in all activities regarding the road network. During the last decades, it has become clear in many countries that simply building more and more roads may not always be the best answer to traffic growth and other problems. The emphasis in several Western-European countries, for instance, is now getting more directed towards making the best use of the existing road network and giving priority to sites with the worst accident, congestion and/or environmental problems. 
 In several countries, it is recognized that:
good road and traffic engineering can reduce the risk and severity of accidents,
the focus should be more directed towards targeted programs of safety improvements as well as demand and traffic management,
for local roads and streets, the focus should be on co-ordinated local planning, traffic calming, and improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.
 The safety of roads depends on a number of road characteristics concerning:
design,
equipment,
construction,
traffic regulation and control,
Maintenance and operation.

Trying to control her tears, Charlotte, recalled how her family had decided to come back to Lebanon from Australia because their mother was concerned that one of her children would become a victim of drugs or violence. “We came back because we thought that the family ties would protect us,” she said. “We didn’t know that the lack of safety in construction zones will kill two of our family members.”
Although Lebanon spent large amounts of money for paving and maintenance of roads, road conditions reflect similar situation with most developing countries where inadequate efforts and budgets are allocated for road construction and maintenance. According to compilations from public budget laws and expenditures authorized to MPs, the Lebanese government allocated a total of 577 million USD for the maintenance and rehabilitation of roads in the 1994-2003 national public budgets. It is highly required to seriously monitor government spending and contractors’ activities and to orient that spending towards safety.          
No formal road safety review was carried out of the road network but a road safety specialist, who visited Lebanon in 2002, indicated the following problems:
-Very poor facilities on the highway for pedestrian either for walking or for crossing.
-Poorly designed and maintained crash barriers both in the median and on the other curves of bends.
-Poorly laid out minor road junctions and turning places on the highway.
-Inadequate street lighting.
-Protruding and dangerous road side furniture.
-Multiple access and poor control of land use on the highway.
-Dangerous U shaped drainage ditches at the end of the carriageway with no protection.
-Poor skidding resistance and poor road surface condition on minor road network.
-Lack of road markings.
Major improvements in the infrastructure and operation of most Lebanese roads are noticed in the last years, but still there is a need for much more. Lebanese roads had reached a critical state. Some plans that are endorsed by the government to mitigate the current situation are encouraging, but the present fiscal situation put most of these plans in jeopardy. 
Lebanon has around 7200 km of roads. Much of this network needs maintenance and repair. The government has committed itself to improve the current situation of roads. It has also committed itself to construct 400 kilometers of new roads, which will include building a motorway between the capital and the Syrian border, expending Beirut network and constructing a ring around Beirut.
Around 40 per cent of Lebanese population is in the Great Beirut Area, the capital is the core of the road system in Lebanon, although many efforts are done in other parts of the country. Beirut and its metropolitan area still suffer from traffic congestion due the weak traffic management in the capital.
Severe congestion both in and around the capital, and particularly at the connections with the coastal is exacerbated by heavy reliance on private cars, which amount to over 300,000 for a population of some 1.2 million in Great Beirut (more than 250 cars per 1000 people). Over 68 per cent of the total motorized passenger trips, more than half are home-to-work, are made by private cars. Shared taxis and public buses account respectively for 15 per cent and 17 per cent of all trips. 

Clovis Abi Nader, a Senior Traffic engineer, explained the importance of the asphalt: Bad asphalt depreciates the car faster, decreases its stability and may cause the driver to loose control of the vehicle. Lebanon witnesses many bad conditions of asphalt; bumps are one of them.  When it comes to the execution of the asphalt, roads should be inclined in the same direction of the turnings to prevent cars from deviating outside their tracks.  Unfortunately, this is absent in most of the Lebanese roads.  Another point is the roads’ equipment as to road marks and reflectors.  In Lebanon, all the equipment isn’t made of good quality because it costs the government less.  That’s why most of road marks don’t last much.  On the other side, grand rails that prevent vehicles from crossing to the other side or falling into a valley present a serious problem.  They’re not rehabilitated after crashes; so when driving through Lebanon, one can see traces of previous accidents.  On top of that, they are made of metal and so consist a real danger to cars.  The best alternative is to use New Jersey Barriers made of cement for they are more durable and their form pushes the car back into the road.
In addition, YASA workshop for enhancing safety of roads needs recommended:

  •  Barriers between opposite lanes
  •  Roads should be straight as much as possible
  •  Crash Cushions on the borders of roads
  •  Decreasing the number of exits and entries into highways.
  •  Creation of parallel roads (service drives) to highways
  •  Proper drainage systems
  •  Proper lighting
  •  Thorough and consistent signaling
  •  Planting trees between the 2 directions of roads to minimize the disturbance effect of car lighting during the night.
Lebanon , Traffic Safety

Date: 8/26/2011 12:00:44 PM

By: YASA WEB , YASA
 
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Traffic Safety