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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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Adaptation of road bridges to climate change

Climate change has now become a global issue of concern and it is for this reason that PIARC has incorporated it into the strategic themes and technical committees for the term 2012-2015. Higher levels of carbon dioxide as part of greenhouse gas emissions are being released resulting in heat being trapped in the atmosphere, which over time will result in a rise in the earth's air temperature. This rise in temperature will filter into the oceans, causing sea water to expand and therefore raise sea levels. There are already signs of extreme weather occurring in certain parts of the world resulting in events like drought, heavy rainfall, flooding, typhoons and violent storms and in addition landslides, rock falls, mudflows, avalanches and glacier melting. The frequencies of some of these events are also increasing.

In the last term of the Technical Committee, thirteen countries or states from five continents responded to the study on climate change and its impacts on road bridges. In general, many countries are experiencing extreme natural events resulting in loss of lives and loss of or damage to infrastructure. Importantly, however, most countries cannot ascertain that these events are results of climate change. The effects on road bridges are not clear yet.

As possible future work, the committee recommends studies of the provisions made by different countries in the planning and implementation phases of projects in order to limit impact on climate change, particularly with regard to bridge design, construction and maintenance.

Information sheet

  • Date: 2016
  • Author(s): Comité technique 4.3 - Ponts routiers Technical Committee 4.3 - Road Bridges
  • Domain(s): Road Bridges
  • Type: 2017R03EN - Technical Report
  • PIARC Ref.: 2017R03EN
  • ISBN: 978-2-84060-466-2
  • Number of pages: 14