Ever Wonder What Goes Into Building a Highway?
NOTE: The following is a feature story on road construction in Nova Scotia. A photo is available on the Communications Nova Scotia website at http://gov.ns.ca/news/Photos/2009/Aug/DSC-0588.JPG
Although most of us travel on Nova Scotia's roads every day, few people know how our highways are built. With more than 25 different steps involved in road construction, a lot more goes into building a new highway than you might think!
If you have ever found yourself behind the wheel or in the passenger seat wondering what goes into building a highway, wonder no more. We have some answers.
The process of building or twinning highway begins several years before projects are finalized and construction equipment is on the road. This process includes mapping, surveying, public consultation, road design, land purchase, environmental assessments, and much more.
"The department considers many factors when building a new road," said Bill Estabrooks, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. "Careful planning helps ensure roads are built in the right place, at the right time, and are constructed to last as long as possible."
The department is responsible for over 23,000 kilometres of roads in the province - the equivalent of driving from Sydney to Vancouver four times. The cost of building these roads is steep. In 2009 it costs about $3.5 million to build a single kilometre of new two-lane 100-Series highway, plus there could be an extra cost for bridges.
"While the fundamentals of building a road remain the same, advances in road technology, building designs and equipment capacity allow us to construct better highways capable of carrying higher traffic volumes and heavier truck loads," said Bruce Fitzner, executive director of highway engineering and construction.
In addition to being able to build a strong infrastructure for Nova Scotians, the economic benefits of building roads are significant.
"The road building industry in Nova Scotia is a large source of jobs, creating an estimated 5,000 direct and 2,500 indirect positions every year," said Grant Feltmate, executive director of the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association.
You can find out more about how highways are built and twinned by going to the department's website, www.gov.ns.ca/tran/highways/hwyconstruction.asp .
The site includes pictures, costs of building and maintaining roads, and how roads are built from deciding where the ground is broken for a new one to opening it to traffic.