How Roadway Engineering Has Advanced Over Time

Written by: Rachel Washington and Tyler Smith, PE

Roadway engineering is the branch of civil engineering that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of highways, bridges, and other roads. Roadway engineering is a vital part of our infrastructure, and it plays a crucial role in our economy and our way of life.

The history of roadway engineering dates back to the early days of human civilization. The first roads were built by the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. These early roads were made from large stones that made for a bumpy ride. Over time, early roadway engineers started to build roads in layers with larger stones on the bottom and gravel on top to fix this issue. Later, ideas like raising the center of the road which we call the “crown” and adding roadside ditches were added to account for stormwater. The Roman Empire then built the first highway system in the world, and the Chinese built the first bridge.

In the modern era, roadway engineers deal with similar issues as the past, but have other increasingly complex problems that require sophisticated solutions. Today, roadway engineers must deal with a variety of challenges, such as traffic congestion, limited resources, and environmental impact.

Despite these challenges, roadway engineering has made great strides in the last decade. New innovative ideas such as diverging diamond interchanges and advances in technology such as camera vehicle detection for traffic signals are becoming normal. Computer software has also allowed engineers to model traffic congestion, design cost effective highways, and provide advanced utility/drainage systems. Thanks to advances in technology, roadway engineers are now able to design and build highways that are safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.

Looking to the future, it is clear that roadway engineering will continue to play a vital role in our society. As we face new challenges such as autonomous vehicles, aging infrastructure, and climate change, roadway engineers will need to adapt and innovate to ensure that our transportation infrastructure remains safe and sustainable. The field of roadway engineering is constantly evolving, and it will continue to be a critical component of our society’s infrastructure for many decades to come.

Matthews | DCCM has extensive knowledge and experience with roadway design projects and coordinating transportation projects in general. With a focus on safety, maintainability, and efficiency, our engineers and technical staff work smart to improve transportation facilities and overall quality of life for its users while keeping a focus on the project budget. Previous successful roadway and transportation projects that Matthews | DCCM has been involved in range from small scale, local roadways and driveways to larger scale major collector and limited access highway improvements. These improvements included milling and resurfacing, widening, new roadways, signing & pavement marking improvements, safety improvements, drainage upgrades, utility work, and anything else you can expect to encounter within a roadway corridor. Matthews | DCCM provides economical and long-lasting solutions to transportation infrastructure and mobility challenges. 

Learn more about our Transportation Lead, Chris Buttermore, PE, and Senior project Manager, Tyler Smith, PE. 

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