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PIARC (World Road Association), founded in 1909 and comprising 125 member governments from all over the world, is the global forum for exchange of knowledge and experience on roads, road transport policies and practices. With consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the Association is contributing to a stable and sustainable global development of the road and transport sector.

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IV International Seminar "Earthworks in Europe"

19-20 April 2018, Madrid (Spain)

The IV International Seminar: Earth works in Europe was held in Madrid on April 19th 20th, 2018, as the fourth of the series (Paris, 2005, London 2009, Berlin 2012) aimed at studying project evolution, construction and conservation of earthworks in the Old Continent.

Preparatory documents for the International Seminar

Summary of the Seminar

To that end, well known specialists undertook to analyze and update the following topics:

  • European regulations
  • Special projects and undertakings
  • Analysis of geotechnical risk
  • Adapting to climate change
  • Sustainability and optimal use of local materials

The Seminar was organized jointly by PIARC Technical Committee D.4 "Rural Roads and Earthworks", CEDEX, the General Roads Directorate of the Ministry for Promotion, the Roads Technical Association and ETSI de Caminos C y P de la UPM, sessions took place in the conference hall of CEDEX's CETA (Centro de Estudios de Técnica Aplicada: Centre for the study of applied techniques). Spanish and English were used during the Seminar and there was simultaneous translation.

Representatives from CEDEX, the General Roads Directorate and PIARC featured in the opening ceremony. Speakers from 9 countries presented 40 papers.

Session 1 - european regulations

For a decade now, specialists from across the continent have been working, under the auspices of the European Standardization Committee (CEN) to draft a standard on earthworks, as the first text including these characteristics written about European environment. To the date in which this paper is published, the standard will have as many as nine parts, albeit only six of them are thoroughly drafted.

In the structure of the above mentioned European body, these standardization works correspond to technical committee CEN TC 396 Earthworks, divided into Working Groups WG, that occasionally also divide into Task Groups TG.

Session 2 - special projects and undertakings

This session's general paper, Research Studies on Rail Geotechnics in CEDEX, was presented by Fernando PARDO DE SANTAYANA (Spain) who reviewed the ample activity in this field of the Centre he heads, presenting the unique and presently world renown facility, the track box, that was recently visited by attendants to the Seminar.

The session included other five presentations as well.

Session 3 - analysis of geotechnical risk

Laura CALDEIRA (Portugal), Director of the Department on Geotechnics of LNEC (National Laboratory for Civil Engineering) was in charge of presenting the general paper of the session on Analysis of Geotechnical Risk, and moved from general issues to concrete ones, including standardization aspects and ending by an analysis of earthworks risk in airports of the neighboring country.

There were three related presentations in this session.

Session 4 - adapting to climate change

There were two general speakers in this session:

  • Exposure of earthworks and rural roads to climate change; Véronique BERCHE (France) from CEREMA, coordinator of this theme in PIARC, presented the analysis methodology that the group is following and illustrated it using one example of a secondary road in her country.
  • Lessons learnt from an analysis of the needs of Spain's highway network to adapt to climate change (Red de Carreteras del Estado); Alberto COMPTE (Spain) from CEDEX approached the topic on the basis of a set of scenarios of concrete forecasts of climate change used by AEMET. He presented the conclusions of works developed by CEDEX regarding how vulnerable is Spain's highway network to climate change, including identifying concrete sections and recommendations.

Session 5 - sustainability and optimal use of local materials

The general paper of the session on Use of local materials in road embankments was presented by Aúrea PERUCHO (Spain) from CEDEX, coordinator of this theme in PIARC, who reviewed an area on which the World Association has been working for thirty years and published five reports, the latest in 2012. After going over these documents, the presentation emphasized that in the near future a new updating of the topic in the coming World Congress in 2019 is necessary.

Next, twelve free communications were presented in the fifth session, a figure equal to the number of those presented in the other four sessions of the Seminar.

After all papers were presented, the chairman of the Seminar's Technical Commission made a short general summary and the General Director of the General Roads Directorate proceeded to formally closing the Seminar.

Technical visits

During lunch hours, there were technical visits at different times to the Laboratory for Geotechnics and the large cell for essays on rail sections (track box) of CEDEX that took place with ample attendance, both in English and Spanish.

The V Seminar should count on three years of existence of the now adopted European standard on earthworks, with the conclusions of PIARC's working groups D4 resulting from the 2019 World Congress and almost two years of existence of groups resulting from the Congress.

Through this paper and three years in advance, we encourage our readers to start thinking about presenting their experiences on the subject, acquired in the near future. In Prague 202, our Czech colleagues are waiting for us with open arms.