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Why So Many Governments Struggle With Road Construction Projects

Around the globe many citizens wonder why so many governments struggle with road construction projects. Different countries struggle with different issues, but all governments have the same goal in mind. From a developing nation to an industrial nation, every successful country needs a healthy infrastructure, and well planned roadwork plays a large role.

Challenges presented to countries when building road systems include: budgeting, regulatory restrictions spurned by environmental issues, geographic concerns, construction strategies and delays, costly maintenance, and even road construction's effect on violent conflicts. These challenges are proving daunting for many countries. There are a few countries facing problems which are representative of various governments around the world struggling with road construction projects.

The United States

Unlike the problems in developing countries, the United States is primarily facing budget concerns with maintenance on existing roadways. The expense of building new roads and maintaining older ones is proving a challenge for a government faced with large debts and an economic recession. From 1998 to 2003 the Transportation Equity Act provided new funding in the amount of $217 billion according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. However, since the beginning of 2011 road funding and new projects are dropping between ten and twenty percent a month compared to the same months of the previous year.


In India, the government has placed a large push on infrastructure work over the last ten years. The country has developed at an amazing pace. However, in February, a State Quality Monitor in India noted that without proper road construction and maintenance the country was losing at least Rs. 30000 crores (300 billion rupees) per year due primarily to inadequate capacity, insufficient pavement thickness and poor riding quality. The country of India is facing many decisions involving their network of roads. The government is in need of a department to focus on transportation, road building and maintenance.

They need a budget increase possibly put in place by taxes specifically devoted to a national road fund. Finally, the government will need a set of laws to determine everything from parking areas to road capacity.


Greenland faces an entirely different struggle with their roads than the United States or India. Greenland's government is facing the environmental concern of its citizens and the geographical concerns of building roads on permafrost and in areas where water is a major concern due to melting in the spring and the thawing of frozen soil in the summer. The RODEX cooperation, which includes experts from Finland, Scotland, Norway and Sweden has made their collective reports and expertise available for the construction of roads in arctic conditions. Greenland's challenges have been to discover what road materials are best suited for the northern frozen area of the country and the southern “melt-off” area. While the roadwork in Greenland is just beginning, Greenland's government is putting the time in to develop studies which will determine road materials, capacity and the necessary maintenance required in years to come.


Lastly, there is the entirely different concern for a road like the Ring Road, also known as Highway 1, in Afghanistan. This is a road built for the people of Afghanistan by an American aid project. The road is 3,000 km and connects Kandahar, Herat and Kabul in a large circle. The problems associated with this road are primarily associated with wartime concerns. The road is not only an excellent resource for the Americans but also for the Taliban.

There is also the concern of maintenance brought up by Matthew J. Nasuti, an expert on reconstruction after his work with the Bechtel Corporation, the world's largest construction company, and his duties on the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Iraq. Mr. Nasuti believes the road would be a huge success if installed during a time of peace, but due to the wartime environment in modern Afghanistan he instead believes the project should have never begun. Mr. Nasuti's largest concern is the $1 billion of maintenance that will be left in the hands of the Afghanistan government after the war. He states that because the Afghanistan yearly budget only approaches approximately $7 billion a year, this an expense they are not prepared to handle.

There are many questions and many answers as to why governments struggle with road construction projects around the globe. There are budgetary problems in new construction and maintenance. There are geographical issues with the availability of quality roads and the percentage of the population utilizing them. There are also environmental factors from ice melting to thawing soil. Concerns over the effects of roadways in violent conflicts also effects many nations. Governments will continue to face tough choices and large challenges in the building and maintenance of roadways around the globe.