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What Traffic Engineering Firms Do

By on March 4, 2019

Ever since the early 1900s, the United States has been a nation of cars. There was a renewed interest in such vehicles in the 1920s, and by the 1950s, cars had become commonplace, along with the highways and roads that they drove on. All of this requires serious feats of traffic engineering, and today, civil engineer services are ready and willing to get to work all around the world. Engineering projects to create safer and better highways can improve traffic flow and reduce rates of traffic jams, auto accidents, and other undesired events. Today’s technology such as lidar surveying and photogrammetry allow a civil engineering company to mare accurately scan existing highways and make 3-D maps of them. Traffic engineering can use similar scanning methods to make 3-D maps of other terrain when a highway is being planned for construction. In fact, the same may be said about other civil engineering projects too, such as placing sewage plants and pipelines.

Modern Traffic Engineering

American roads were not built overnight. The first roads for traffic were put down in the 1910s, and at the time, cars were slow and tended to share the roads with horse-drawn carriages and even pedestrians. That certainly changed over time, and by the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. He had seen high-speed roads in Germany during World War II, and resolved to lend this tech to American traffic. And ever since, highways have appeared all over the nation to allow for high-speed driving for commercial and private vehicles alike. On top of this, many bridges were built for highways to span canyons, rovers, and more, along with overpasses that go right over lower roads.

These feats of engineering are easier to design and build when photogrammetry is used. For those unaware, this is the process of taking two or more 2-D images and then translating them into 3-D images and models for reference. Most often, this is done by comparing and analyzing 2-D images. This work can allow traffic engineering firms to figure out the best way to design bridges, highways, and more to span natural terrain that is not completely flat. Such bridges must be structurally sound and able to stand the weight of traffic, as well as stay in shape when built into rough terrain.

Maintenance and upkeep are important, too. Even the mightiest bridges and roads may wear out over time, especially if they get a lot of traffic. More than half of American interstate miles are at 70% of their traffic capacity, and around 25% of those miles are packed to 95% of their intended capacity. What is more, around 25% of all bridges in the United States are in need of repairs or carrying more traffic than they were originally designed for. Sometimes, the solution may be to shut down that part of the highway, then tear down an old bridge and design a new one that has modern traffic in mind. And of course, routine maintenance can be done on any highway or road, such as removing the top layer of asphalt and pouring a new, fresher layer. Pot holes, cracks, faded paint, and more can make old roads both inconvenient and even hazardous to drive on, so refreshing the roads is a major responsibility. New roads must also have the proper markings painted onto them, such as yellow or white lines to divide lanes of traffic or to mark turn lanes and crosswalks.

Sewage Treatment

Another major infrastructure to consider is that of sewage treatment and disposal. Many of these plants and pipes are getting old, and may need to be replaced and updated soon. Deterioration happens naturally over time, and engineers have noted that many American pipe lines and sewage plants are due to be replaced or fixed. After all, deteriorated sewage lines often leak, and the sewage system is estimated to leak around 1.26 trillion gallons of untreated sewage per year. This is highly wasteful and can damage the environment, so engineering firms are hard at work replacing damaged sewer lines across the nation. The same might be said of dams, and a lot of damage may be done if they are breached. Maintenance for such dams is essential, and engineers may be called upon.

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