Vilnius Gediminas Technical UniversityRiga Technical UniversityTallinn University of TechnologyBaltic Road Association

 

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ISSN 1822-427X print
ISSN 1822-4288 online
 

 

 
 
 
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Guest editorial

Valdis Laukšteins

DOI: 10.3846/1822-427X.2009.4.95-98

 

On 23–26 August 2009, the Baltic Road Association (BRA) organized the XXVII International Baltic Road Conference in Riga.

BRA is a regional road organization of the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Its key aim is to coordinate the activities of the Baltic road specialists and seek mutual co-operation and technical progress as well as look for solutions of regional problems and represent the Baltic road specialists in international organizations and events.

The conference programme consisted of 90 reports from 15 countries, and such a wide representation confirms international significance of the Conference among professionals not only in the Baltic region.

The participants of the Conference took part and made presentations in 7 sections.

 

A1 Road Planning

In this Conference theme 14 reports were included.

In this part of the Conference the participants had a chance to get acquainted with specific research methods of road network capacity and progress of specific research projects. The work is not simple – to convince members of the public that planned road improvements are for ensuring their own n eeds. Finnish colleagues introduced Microsimulation model of the main road network of South- Eastern Finland. It is said in the report that the simulation model is able to express the traffic conditions fairly realistically and the modelling results can be used as rough estimates of the traffic performance in the network. So traffic research in any road network section can provide good source material for improvement of traffic simulation model.

The representative of the Latvian State Roads informed about risks in implementing ITS solutions and necessity to develop these solutions in a cost effective way. One of suggested methods is the use of the “step-by-step” principle.

In their report Lithuanian colleagues emphasized necessity to continue research of climatic factors and their impact on traffic and roads by using Road Weather Station Information System.

The Karsakiškis by-pass case in Lithuania showed a good example that, before development of a spatial plan for designing a new route of the road in it, it is helpful to perform a pre-design study and environmental impact assessment. It is very important to conduct as many route alternatives as possible in this pre-design study and, when conducting these alternatives, to evaluate factors of environmental impact. It will provide a possibility to develop Environmental impact assessment programme as comprehensively as possible, to perform this research, and it will give much bigger guarantees for approval of alternative not only publicly accepted, but also coordinated with Environmental impact assessment authority.

The quality of transport planning is largely defined by amount of available source data and their reliability. In the report National Travel Surveys in Finland colleagues emphasize a necessity to improve travel survey methodology. It has to be mentioned that till now in Latvia driver inquiries have been performed within different research projects and a comprehensive study of passenger mobility is one of the future tasks.

 

A2 Road Construction

26 reports were included in this theme and it is considered the most important in the Conference. Some reports provided information on specific projects in the Baltic States, their progress, problems and innovations. Some reports looked at new technologies and materials.

Main challenges are cost saving and environmental friendliness. Report on “hot on hot” asphalt paving describes the use of asphalt pavement method, currently little known in the Baltic States, that requires a precise work organization, allows to decrease energy consumption and construction time, simultaneously improving bonding of two courses. In this session we were able to get acquainted with not only options for traditional recycling of road construction residues, but also with Croatian experience in application of industrial and construction waste materials in road construction.

In the session there were several reports that could be placed in the category of construction administration. Such issues as risk management in big projects, development of construction market, costs of traffic disturbances, reliable planning of expenses are always live and have a significant impact on construction and road users costs.

Following reports of the Conference, environmental issues, as well as questions of market harmonization will become more urgent in future. It is dictated by both changes in global economy, and necessity to join forces in improvement of technical requirements, processes of procurement and construction regulation.

Several reports were presented on studies that concern similar themes and lead up to thoughts whether it would be more useful to cooperate more in the research planning field and join forces of different countries for solution of issues.

 

A3 Road Preservation

In total 11 reports were submitted in this session.

O. Talvik and A. Aavik, Tallinn University of Technology, analyzed limit values for falling weight deflectometer measurements for different types of roadbeds and pavements in Estonia to acquire credible data for planning pavement reconstruction. The method allows to identify the weakest links that in its turn allow to create lists of work priorities thus achieving considerable economical effect.

U. Konsap, Estonian Road Administration, informed about a project to develop management system for road works and progress of the project implementation. One of the system goals is to improve efficiency of road network management by introducing such an instrument as “Eprocurements”.

L. Krašauskas and M. Jocius, Transport and Road Research Institute, shared their experience in route selection and adjustment for the transportation of heavy-weight oversized cargoes.

Å. Lindgren and F. Friberg, Swedish Road Administration, have summarized experience of Sweden and several EU Member States in recycling tar-containing asphalt. In Sweden only there is about 10–16 million tons of tarcontaining asphalt. Deposition of milled asphalt materials is very expensive, therefore possibilities are examined to recycle tar-containing asphalt on site by reducing concentration of PAH till the level defined in environmental standards. For roads with small traffic volume dangerous chemical waste can be purchased instead of planned cheap pavement.

R. Lugmayr, TenCate Geosynthetics, and M. Jamek and E. K. Tschegg, Vienna University of Technology, shared experience how to study fatigue crack propagation in bituminous roads with geosynthetic interlayer.

J. Pettersson, Swedish Road Administration, analyzed new challenges in road maintenance. Requirements for transport system are increasing but at the same time there is a constant pressure to cut back on available resources due to competition with many other public sectors for funds.

A. Rainys, Lithuanian Road Administration, shared experience on road maintenance of Lithuanian roads of national significance. The report analyzed winter road maintenance levels, road maintenance schemes and necessary resources.

J. Valtonen, Helsinki University of Technology, in his report offered a summary on test road sections constructed in the last decades with an objective to replace oil gravel pavements with environmentally friendlier technologies using bitumen emulsions and soft bitumen. The report provided recommendations in order to get long-lasting soft asphalt pavements. One of them is related to evaluation of such test road sections. Where it is possible, test technology and reference technology should be designed and constructed in one cross-section.

Finnish colleagues Timo Vikström, Lemminkäinen Infra Oy, and Mika Stenmark, Vianova Systems Finland Oy, presented maintenance management system for the motorway E18 section Muurla – Lohja “Infra Asset Management System”. This section was constructed by and will be maintained for the next 25 years by a private contractor. The private sector shows a good example to road administrations how to effectively administer road maintenance by using progressive management instruments.

 

B1 Road Financing

This Conference theme contained 6 reports.

G.Anderson from Kapsch Traffic Com AB reported that main challenge for introducing of road user charging remains political decision. Report provides basic principles that have to be considered when solving questions of implementing ETC and technical solutions for ETC fee collecting systems. It emphasizes necessity to define goal that should be reached by implementing one or another traffic scheme – to reduce traffic flow, improve environment, raise funds etc. However, the final decision on introducing road user charging will be a political one.

R. Lipkevičius, Lithuanian Road Administration, in his report described the most important benefits for Lithuanian road sector when attracting EU co-financing in 2004–2006. EU financing allowed to increase amount of works and improve technology, to stop disintegration of Lithuanian main and national roads caused by increasing traffic of freight vehicles. By implementing investment objects, access to trans-European corridor, traffic between region centres, business, industrial and tourism centres was improved, traffic congestions were decreased. Report of Mr. R. Lipkevičius reflects improvements of certain sections of Lithuanian roads, where financing from EU Funds was attracted and what allowed Lithuanian Road Administration to reach its goal – provide convenient and safe traffic for road users.

D. Miškinis, Lithuanian Road Administration, emphasized in his report that, in accordance with statement of the World Bank experts, Road fund is a better financing model for road maintenance than state budget because it provides direct connection between financing necessary for road maintenance and road user charges. Lithuanian Road fund was established in 1995 and in the course of time it experienced various transformations. Of course, the fund was also affected by economical recession, and it has to be mentioned that political decisions have an impact on fund revenues. In this report it can be seen that even the Road fund, where revenues are attached to actual needs of road maintenance, is not protected from a decrease, when solving financing of government priorities.

In this session very important question to road sector of the Baltic States – EU co-financing for implementing different projects – was not left out. It has to be mentioned that information on EU co-financed projects in the three Baltic States is also displayed quite broadly in homepages of road administrations.

J. Tauriņs, Latvian State Roads, informed about Latvian experience in preparing Public Private Partnership projects and showed development programme of the state main roads that can be implemented only with attraction of considerable investments. The most realistic way to implement these projects is to use a PPP model. There is no doubt that economical recession will slow down these plans to some extent but at the same time PPP projects could be an instrument for overcoming the crisis.

 

B2 Bridges

12 reports were included in this Conference theme. Half of these reports were dedicated to bridge renovation, restoration and construction of new bridges. The participants had a possibility to get familiar with implementation of specific projects, from review on history of particular bridges, design to construction process.

Question of how to perform reconstruction of bridge with the possibly smallest resources and shortest traffic restrictions has always been important. These issues were described in the report of Mr. G. Viršilas on the increase of durability and lifetime of existing bridges where traditional and alternative methods of bridge renovation and repair of certain elements are compared to reduce costs and traffic restrictions.

When applying non-standard technical solutions are constructed bridges qualitative and in compliance with project requirements and how are these bridges inspected – these questions are answered in the report on load testing of Latvian bridges. To test compliance of the bridge with designed solution, measure deflections and dynamic characteristics of structures, new innovative methods and instruments are applied today. Gained results and data can be used in development of a bridge maintenance plan.

In this Conference a smaller attention was paid to the bridge maintenance that could be more important in the next one, since we will have to work in conditions of complicated financing and accumulated repair works.

 

C1 Road Regulations/Education

Three reports were included in this theme.

Research Director from Department of Strategic Development Head Office of Swedish Road Administration informed about 4 different ways of promoting innovation. Innovations in transport sector is an instrument that allows to implement more efficiently policies of the national parliaments and governments – road safety, environment protection, mobility and accessibility.

It would not be fair not to mention internal school for road planners established by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration in 2004/2005. One of the most important aspects is cooperation of road administration with municipality planning authorities to develop road projects, that complies with society needs, to receive positive evaluation of environmental specialists and public approval. This aspect is taken into consideration when organizing training of road planners.

 

C2 Road safety

Reports presented in the road safety session can be divided in two sub-themes:

 - Reports on situation of traffic safety in the Baltic States. They provided information on traffic safety statistics and analyzed reasons for traffic accidents. In the last decade traffic safety in the Baltic States has improved considerably but still there is much to be done, especially when comparing with situation in Nordic countries. Reports provided information on main groups of activities of traffic safety improvement and they are similar in the Baltic States.

 - The second sub-theme included reports that introduced listeners with different novelties of traffic safety improvement in the Nordic countries. It is new experience and new possibilities, especially in the current economical situation. It was interesting to learn about experience of Swedish colleagues in low-cost traffic safety measures.

 - Apart from the previously mentioned, several reports paid attention to European Directive on Road Infrastructure Safety Management, adopted in 2008. Implementation of measures defined in the Directive is still in front of us and it is the task of next years for all traffic planners and organizers.

 

Valdis Laukšteins

Director of Technical Division of Latvian State Roads

State Joint Stock Company Latvian State Roads, 3, Gogoļa Street, 1050 Riga, Latvia

E-mail: valdis@lvceli.lv 

 

Official opening of international exhibition (photo – Voldemārs Šķēle)

 

Opening ceremony of conference (photo – Voldemārs Šķēle)

 

Directors General of Road Administrations of Baltic countries during plenary session (photo – Voldemārs Šķēle)

 

Jean-Francois Corte, Secretary General of World Road Association (PIARC), holding his speech (photo – Voldemārs Šķēle)

 

Participants of conference (photo – Voldemārs Šķēle)

 

 

 

 

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