Transportation networks must satisfy high mobility demands, but at the same time must do it with the lowest possible energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Solutions to improve energy efficiency include the reduction of the energy embodied in the physical structures through re-use and recycling, the implementation of low energy systems and energy harvesting from the infrastructure itself to the extent of self-sufficient production. In addition, infrastructure design, maintenance and operation can have a substantial influence on the energy consumed by the vehicles, vessels and aircrafts operating on it.
A better integration of infrastructure in its natural habitat (avoiding fragmentation as much as possible), together with a reduced intrusion of noise, air pollution and vibration, must be achieved. Dedicated ‘green corridors’ using new types of vehicles will ‘green’ the supply chain over medium distances.
Alongside this, infrastructure must support the soft modes of transport (e.g. cycling and walking) by delivering a sustainable and cross-modal urban transport ecosystem. The disruption that comes from electric and autonomous in Smart Cities must be taken into account as well.
Parameters such as the durability and the re-use and recycling of materials are becoming more relevant in an economic context that demands higher efficiency and sustainability. Innovative systems and processes for construction are key to improve sustainability of transportation infrastructures worldwide. Long-lasting, climate-resilient and more environmentally-aware construction materials have a main role in the construction of new corridors and hubs, together with cost-efficient and fast design methods.
Self-healing and self-cleaning technologies (e.g. applied to coatings, pavements or bridges) will also enhance faster and better-planned quality control systems.
The effects of climate change are real: transportation infrastructure is not always ready to cope with extreme weather conditions, which result in an extra cost to transportation infrastructures. Climate change impacts can be revealed as major incidents that occur more often, or as small and incremental changes that over the years deteriorate and erode the quality of transportation infrastructures.
Adaptation of infrastructure to climate change requires taking in account every stage of the infrastructure management process: planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance. Understanding and proactively addressing the potential impacts of climate change can help avoiding the potential damage, disruption in service, and safety concerns that climate change may cause. The design of Smart Transportation Infrastructures is of paramount importance to achieve a ‘climate-resilient’ infrastructure.