Designing Interurban Highways Corridors: Utilizing Opportunities for Enhancement of Ecological and Social Benefits by Using Road Runoff

Student: Liad Markus
Advisors: Prof. Avital Gasith, Prof. Naomi Carmon

Interurban highways comprise an essential infrastructure for the modern lifestyle, but they are perceived to have a negative impact on the environment and as factors that impair ecological services. There is an interest to examine how to reduce highway damages to the ecology and, if possible, increase their benefits.

 

Road runoff is considered to be a factor that jeopardizes driving safety, damages the road environment and pollutes the water bodies to which it flows (“receiving waters”).  Highway designers are required to propose solutions for rapid and efficient runoff removal from the road surface, while minimizing damage to the nearby environment. Although rainwater is a natural source of water that is essential for the existence of natural bodies of water and ecosystems, road runoff is not recognized as a utilizable resource.  The extension of impervious paved areas, due to the addition of new roads and expansion of existing highways in Israel, is expected to increase the quantities of runoff, and thus, reduce the water supply to nature and worsen the environmental problem. This environmental problem presents a professional challenge – transforming the runoff from a nuisance to a resource.

 

This research is a product of integration of two scientific-professional approaches: One is Water-Sensitive Planning (WSP) (Carmon & Shamir 2010), according to which integrating water consideration into spatial and landscape planning – including considerations of road-runoff – enables to reduce environmental damages and simultaneously to derive environmental and social benefits; second is Road Ecology (Forman et al., 2003), which deals with rehabilitation of land strips within the right of way of interurban highways, with the intention to restore ecological services that were damaged by construction activities. The research combines the two approaches, suggests to apply them in cases in which there are opportunities to create a techno-ecosystem for managing road-runoff, and thus, to enhance environmental and social benefits.

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