The researchers from the University of Nottingham suggests that a network of underground roads could achieve those aims.
The team's concept is based on digging channels into the ground and constructing typical roads at the bottom of them. Then pre-cast road surfaces can be added on top of those channels providing twice the initial surface. The top surface could be limited to environmentally-friendly means of transportation such as electric vehicles or bicycles while the channel road could be used by conventional cars. Therefore, urban areas would become much friendlier and safer for pedestrians.
Professor Saffa Riffat, chair in sustainable energy at Nottingham’s faculty of engineering, stated that the creation of such channels is much more cost-efficient than tunnel construction. “Compared to building tunnels, it would be much easier to create a channel in the ground and put a prefabricated surface road on top, allowing you to have twice the area for vehicles to travel on,” he said.
The roads inside the channels would not be affected by weather, a fact of great importance as rainfalls and snow dramatically increase the possibility of accidents. Moreover, the pollutants produced by the petrol vehicles could be addressed before they reach the atmosphere. “It would also mean we could capture the pollutants from these vehicles, because you can’t easily capture pollutants once they’re in the atmosphere, but you can capture them from a sealed environment quite easily, using ducts,” Prof. Riffat stated.
The channels would also provide additional features such as car lots and shafts for water storage.