In most instances rural roads or feeder roads are defined as those roads with less than 50 vehicles a day, ranging from engineered roads and bridges that link to towns and villages, to motorable tracks, trails and paths. Rural roads in general serve dispersed households and populations, often with an agricultural or natural resource based land use structure. Rural road networks also tend to be large and complex; they are often 2 to 3 times the size of the main and provincial networks, but carry only 10% of the traffic in vehicle kilometres. Foot, animal and bicyle paths also feed into rural roads; in turn rural roads link markets and peri-urban hubs.
Labour intensive and labour-based technologies are often advocated for rural road works because, with proper organisation, it is possible to carry out the work to an adequate standard at similar cost. In addition, it provides opportunities for the population to learn useful skills and generate local jobs and incomes. The extra paid employment can be helpful in the build up of a cash reserve that can be help people overcome periods of adversity or generally grow and diversify farm and non-farm activities. Market, social and gender access to public services are all enabling, either directly or indirectly. In general community participation in rural road management has been a focus of interest within IFRTD. For example the Toolkit for Promoting the Sustainability of Rural Transport Infrastructure was developed in collaboration with SDC to isolate some of the key factors in influencing the sucess or failure of local level transport interventions.
When it comes to planning and investing in rural roads IFRTD advocates that traditional sophisticated investment models (including cost-benefit analysis and road user costs) used for high volume roads are less relevant. In the case of rural roads the rates of road deterioration are less predictable and often traffic levels are too small to justify investment using conventional cost benefit analysis. In order to develop investment strategies for rural roads, prioritisation processes need to accommodate the non-quantifiable costs and benefits (sometimes referred to as social costs and benefits). A number of models have been produced for low volume road networks.
You can find out more about the challenge of rural road engineering by visiting the gTKP website.
In a study commissioned by TRL and gTKP IFRTD network members in 12 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have provided input into the various rural road prioritisation processes and techniques currently used in their countries. This rapid assessment can be downloaded below:
Rapid Assessment of Rural Road Prioritisation in 12 Developing Countries. IFRTD 2006. Download (Word Doc 184kb)
IIt is anticipated that phase 2 of this initiative will develop guidelines to assist users in selecting and modifying an appropriate prioritisation methodology for his or her use. The guidelines will differ from others in that comparisons will be based on similar data sets and hence illustrate the advantages and drawbacks of alternative procedures. For more information please refer to the following paper:
A Review of Rural Road Prioritisation Methods (Draft)
by P.R Fouracre and M Dyson (February 2006).
Feedback on this draft review is sought by its authors. Please contact as follows:
P R Fouracre email@example.com
M Dyson firstname.lastname@example.org