Title

SUSTAINABILITY OF RURAL ROAD NETWORK GIVEN CHANGING DEMANDS OF RURAL AGRICULTURE: EVIDENCE FROM TEXAS

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2003

Subject Area

operations - traffic, land use - impacts, ridership - commuting, ridership - demand, policy - sustainable, place - rural, mode - rail

Keywords

Truck traffic, Traffic volume, Texas, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Rural highways, Railways, Railroads, Pavement maintenance, Pavement damage, Investments, Investment requirements, Impacts, Grain, Funding, Financing, Decision making, Case studies, Axle loads, Agricultural industry, Abandonment

Abstract

Over the past two decades, the changing transport demands of agriculture and rural industry and the strategic rail decisions that resulted in the abandonment of many rural rail links have had severe impacts on rural road infrastructure. As larger and heavier trucks haul products over longer distances on rural pavements, the financial ability of the state and local governments to maintain and improve the rural road network has been diminishing. Clearly there is a need to recognize the significance of the agriculture-transport relationship and to determine the impacts on rural roads associated with major agricultural traffic generators to ensure the sustainability of rural road networks. Evidence of the increased truck volumes associated with industrialized agriculture and strategic changes in the rail industry is provided through a case study of the grain industry, with specific emphasis on the production and consumption of corn in Texas. A methodology is suggested to quantify the impacts of increased truck volumes and axle loads on rural pavements that were not designed or built to accommodate more and heavier axle loads. It is believed that a simple methodology to quantify pavement damage can be invaluable to demonstrating rural maintenance needs and to informing rural transport investment decisions.