HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
Road network provides the arterial network to facilitate trade, transport, social integration and
economic development. It facilitates specialization, extension of markets and exploitation of
economies of scale. It is used for the smooth conveyance of both people and goods.
Transportation by road has the advantage over other means of transport because of its easy
accessibility, flexibility of operations, door-to-door service and reliability. Consequently,
passenger and freight movement in India over the years have increasingly shifted towards roads
vis-à-vis other means of transport.
2.2 History of highway engineering
The history of highway engineering gives us an idea about the roads of ancient times. Roads in
Rome were constructed in a large scale and it radiated in many directions helping them in
military operations. Thus they are considered to be pioneers in road construction. In this section
we will see in detail about Ancient roads, Roman roads, British roads, French roads etc.
2.2.1 Ancient Roads
The most primitive mode of transport was by foot. These human pathways would have been
developed for specific purposes leading to camp sites, food, streams for drinking water etc. The
invention of wheel in Mesopotamian civilization led to the development of animal drawn
vehicles. To provide adequate strength to carry the wheels, the new ways tended to follow the
sunny drier side of a path. After the invention of wheel, animal drawn vehicles were developed
and the need for hard surface road emerged. Traces of such hard roads were obtained from
various ancient civilization dated as old as 3500 BC. The earliest authentic record of road was
found from Assyrian empire constructed about 1900 BC.
2.2.2 Roman roads
The earliest large scale road construction is attributed to Romans who constructed an extensive
system of roads radiating in many directions from Rome. Romans recognized that the
fundamentals of good road construction were to provide good drainage, good material and good
workmanship. Their roads were very durable, and some still exist. The roads were bordered on
both sides by longitudinal drains. A typical corss section is shown in Fig.2.1. This was a raised
formation up to a 1 meter high and 15 m wide and was constructed with materials excavated
during the side drain construction. This was then topped with a sand leveling course. In the case
of heavy traffic, a surface course of large 250 mm thick hexagonal ag stones were provided They