Beat the heat (and other transportation problems) with some thinking

| July 24, 2013

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Just what can extreme heat do to our transportation infrastructure? Quite a lot.

What the current heat wave hovering over large portions of the country can do is not only disrupt travellers but also damage roadways and rails.

You’d have to wonder if the aging state of the infrastructure actually gives the superheat a chance to do even more damage.

We’ve seen in super storms what weather can do. Allowing for that factor adds cost if you want to be sure to have the best system in place. But it’s a balancing act. If we were to build bridges and roads to withstand seasonal super-temperatures better than they do now, we have a cost increase–unless we can find some innovative thinking that will do the job.

I thought of the ARTBA conference coming in October when I read this story about how infrastructure is affected by superheat. In the face of almost any transportation challenge, innovation is arguably being underused. We have ways to approach our problems and we push the envelope in trying to see how much we can do with what we have, with the tools we’re used to. Innovation jumps a step and looks at the problem from a place we haven’t got to yet.

The effects of heat are not the biggest problem our infrastructure faces. But mitigating them may require the same kind of thinking that needs to be applied to the biggest of them.

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