Al-Ain: “The Bay”
The Emirates Mobility Research Center at UAE University has developed an integrated methodology aimed at evaluating the life cycle costs of road projects at their various stages and determining their sustainable effects. This comprehensive study will help decision-makers to choose the optimal alternatives regarding the construction of infrastructure facilities that are planned to be relied on for a period of more than 50 years.
This method takes into account all relevant parties, including stakeholders (government authorities and users), the costs and quantities of energy consumed and polluting emissions, at any stage of the project, as well as the costs of extraction of raw materials, production and transportation of materials, construction, operation and use processes (such as the traffic these roads will witness), maintenance and rehabilitation at the end of their life.
The results of this groundbreaking study, which was led by Dr. Hamad Al Jasmi and Dr. Omair Hassan, was published in the Scientific Journal of Cleaner Production, one of the top five journals in sustainability research, and its importance lies in helping decision makers, inside and outside the United Arab Emirates, improve the design of land transport systems and the methods of their operation and treatment when they reach the end of their life, according to well-researched scientific basis.
On the other hand, the study highlighted the need for cooperation between the various competent authorities to achieve effective sustainability.
Dr. Hamad Al Jasmi, Director of the Emirates Mobility Research Center, said: “Road projects inherently have many environmental impacts in addition to their huge costs. The main cause of the environmental burdens on road workers is due to the materials consumed during construction and maintenance operations (such as asphalt and hot-mix cement) and is an obstacle to the construction and operation of carbon-free roads. To avoid environmental abuse and reduce costs, it is necessary that engineers, planners and decision-makers apply improvement techniques throughout the project and look at them in a holistic and multifactorial way, in instead of resorting to options that may seem most appropriate for the initial construction phase.”
Dr. Omair Hassan said: “The basic principle of this new method is to start by identifying the need or the desired functions of the road transport system in terms of both the road and the vehicles using it, given the significant impact of the vehicles on the roads. Then follow an integrated system of theoretically supported equations to find out the characteristics of the road transport system desired by all road users, such as better design, widening of road lanes, provision of on-road public transport systems, etc. The advice of experts and government authorities is then taken to discuss the feasibility of implementing the features that the public wants.”
The research team worked to model sustainability performance by applying the results of the survey to highways in Abu Dhabi. By following this new approach, based on the use of recycled materials for road works and creating a dynamic public transport system that takes into account the needs of vehicles and the public, it found that pollutant emissions could fall by more than 55 percent while reducing costs by 51 percent ($3.65 billion) over one cycle. Lifetime spans over 30 years.