Stressors, Uncertainties, Future Needs

March 28th, 2013 – Seminar 8

Group Members:
Corey Doucette, Devon Meyer, Katlyn Bailey, Heber Garcia, Marco Garcia, Alyssa Anderson, Branton Leskiw, Daniel Ip, Kurt Anos, Neilly Coulter

Forman, Richard T.T., and Lauren E. Alexander. “Roads and Their Ecological Effects.” Annual Reviews: 1998, Vol 29:207-31

This article analyzes the ecological effects that roadways create in multiple different ways within the natural environment. One of the biggest issues that roadway pose is the mortality rate of given species due to road kill. In addition, roadways act as barriers that subdivide populations and species with demographic and genetic consequences. Some of these consequences include hydrologic and erosion effects, as well as peak-flow and sediment impacts.
The article begins to depict particular ways that roadways affect its surroundings. For example, because of roadways, some animal species will never move significant distances along roadsides creating a barrier, which in turn create major local impacts such as communal population. Strategies to perforate roads have been taken into consideration but would result in higher amount of road kills. With this being said, vehicles from roadways are one of the biggest contributors to mortality rates of nearby species, but have a minimal effect on overall population size. Further, water, sediment, chemicals and streams were analyzed in terms of how roads effect them. Chemical impacts tend to be localized near roadways but are greatly reduced (along with toxic solids and metal concentrations) when there is drainage runoff. All in all science and society is challenged to discover reasonable solutions.

Forman, Richard T.T., and Daniel Sperling. “The Future of Roads: No Driving, No Emissions, Nature Reconnected.” 2011, Volume 2: Issue 5: Pg 10-23

The article discusses alternative road solution in which we have commonly come to think that the concept is generation ahead of us. The notion pertains to lowering or heightening roadway, creating tunnels or balconies in a sense for systems of transportation. Studies have shown that by having roadways as separate systems not directly neighboring ecological systems will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve safety, efficiency, and mobility for people and goods, and a benefit for food production and recreation near towns and cities. Our current condition of roadways creates numerous problems that ultimately dampers surrounding ecological systems such as habitat loss, roadkill, wildlife barriers, fragmented habitats, traffic noise, degraded roadside, erosion, sedimentation, ditch water and ground water, altered wetlands, and dispersed land use. Some proposed solutions involve netway systems with automated transportation through elevation or submergence to converge heavy imprint road systems into light imprint transportation, personal pods, public pods, and pod buses with pod service centers, and the use of solar panels and wind turbines to maximize natural processes.

Proposed Discussion:

What are some of the flaws of this proposed netway? Could there be possible restrictions?

Do you think the problems cause by roads will ever get so severe that a drastic change such as the netway system will need to be implemented?

Is there a more realistic and practical solution to our road problem?

What suggestions do you have for reconnecting the land to nature?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think that the roadway proposition creating them at different levels is actually quiet smart with regards to the downfalls that it creates when it directly runs through or neighbors various ecological systems. I think from natures perspective, it’s a great solution, from our perspective, its not. The costs that it would take to remove pre-existing roadways and build them either above or below ground level would be ridiculous and uncomforting for a lot of people (based on fear of heights and claustrophobia). Not to mention, it’s a huge inconvenience to replace existing roadways (what already takes up approximately 1.5% of the area in the U.S according to the article) when that money and time can go towards new innovative systems or dilemmas need the attention. In terms of restrictions, I think that there can be various issues and problems with having roadways either elevated or submerged in various ways. Safety would be a huge issue for elevation, due to a miscalculation in load distribution, earth quakes, and simple structural failure, failure in an elevated roadways would essentially magnify probability of roadway accidents and possibly become more detrimental as a result. If it were to be submerged, there is a probability of collapse and these tunnels could be caved in. Detours would essentially be none existent and efficiency along with functionality would therefore go out the window. In addition, the article discusses how chemicals and toxins pollute nearby ecological systems when roadways neighbor them. Who’s to say that this would not magnify this problem when we are integrating roadways directly into the land/ soil.
I think that roadways are mandatory for our functionality so they are of high priority. With that being said, because they are so important, I think that no matter how sever the damages are that result from them, we will look in other ways other then transforming roadways into netways to solve the issue. Since we are so vehicle dependent, I don’t think that it’s a component of our urban system that we are willing to gamble/ experiment with.
There probably is a better and more practical solution, I just have no idea what it would be. A suggestion that was made in class was natural grass bridges so that animals may cross over roadways without being stricken by vehicles. However, as a rebuttal, a classmate had mentioned that there was a study that proved predators will actually wait at the ends of these bridges, making certain animals easy targets and essentially disrupting the natural way of life. I think that of all the problems that we face with disturbing ecological order and climate change, roadways will be one of our last things that we deal with because they exist everywhere and are so important to our operation.

Photo 1:
Roadways occupy a large amount of land, causing damage upon our natural habitats.
DouglasSouthFlorida. Roadway to (Almost) nowhere. Photograph. Flickr. Jan 1st, 2008.


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