The area of Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure deals with the need to establish effective, safe and sustainable ways of moving people and goods. The area also includes the design and maintenance of the infrastructure which accomplishes this. Geometric design of roads, streets and tracks is included. The structural design of foundations, embankments, bridges and tracks based on traffic loads are covered in other areas.
Traffic and transportation is central for urban planning because of the mutual relationship between the spatial distribution of buildings and the traffic system networks. A well planned infrastructure including all transportation modes are important prerequisites for a well built environment and a functional master plan and avoids costly infrastructure investments.
Planning of roads and tracks is characterized by long lead times, 10-30 years, from a decision to finance the project until it can be opened for traffic. Usage time can be up to 100 years. Methods for forecasting is therefore a central research theme.
The transport sector uses a significant share of energy resources in a society. A challenge is therefore to reduce the use of resources and fossil fuels.
Other important challenges are:
- How to supply efficient and sustainable urban mobility? How to minimize space occupied by infrastructure? Prioritizing between above ground and underground infrastructure? How to promote sustainable mobility by foot or on bicycle? Accessibility for the physically impaired? Mobility hubs and efficient terminals and intermodal services?
- How do we design transport systems that are safe, avoiding fatalities or serious injuries? What opportunities can be found with self-driving cars or automated public transport? In which way must rules and regulations adapt to reflect new technology and an increased focus on climate, circular economy, resilience, health, safety and security?
- Increased know-how and innovations are needed in order to reduce the negative environmental impact from traffic. Planning and design is crucial. The localization and design of new roads and tracks determine much of the impact. Innovations based on research are needed to reduce emissions of pollutants and particles from motorized traffic.
- The railway sector is characterized by a lack of capacity, outdated maintenance concepts, resistance to technology change, lack of incentives and management systems for coordinating all stake-holders. At the same time, policy is to shift from road to rail. No doubt, many of today’s problems result from previous neglect of research in the area.