Highway building is a tough job

As a driver, we probably give some thought to why an intersection is built the way it is...

The more that I learn about how to construct one of B.C.’s highways, the more I see how complicated that job really is.

One would think that you decide where to go, level off a pathway, build a few bridges, throw down some pavement, put up a few signs and we’re good to go. I don’t know if a person could find a better way to understate the task than my last sentence!

As a driver, we probably give some thought to why an intersection is built the way it is, how do we decide on the marking of a speed zone or what the rules might be for installing median barriers.

The Engineering Branch Publications page of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s web site is a virtual library of information.

There are PDF documents explaining standards from environmental concerns though to pedestrian crossings and traffic light controller operation. If you are an engineer at heart, you will be reading for a long time here.

One of the standards organizations behind the scenes is the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers (CITE).

The group is one of many from more than 70 countries who are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods on streets, highways and transit systems. The CITE web site also contains publications ranging from a quarterly newsletter to a design manual for bicycle facilities.

The next time you are on the road and find yourself saying, “I wonder why…” it might be possible to find the answer in one of these resources.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Friday.

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