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Environmental Impacts of Roads

  • By: Alisa W. Coffin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Roads affect physical, chemical, and biological environmental systems in various ways. This entry describes the impacts of road construction, use, and maintenance on both living and nonliving systems. It then discusses the role of road ecology, an applied science oriented toward the mitigation of the environmental impacts of roads.

Roads are networked systems that include the roadway itself as well as the infrastructure required to maintain it, such as shoulders, retaining walls, bridge piers and abutments, and storm water management structures. Road networks provide for the transportation of goods and people, facilitating economic development through the exchange of resources and ideas. Traffic is an integral part of road system function. The environmental impacts of roads can be attributed to both their systemic structure and their function, ...

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