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Noted in Passing: Roman Roads Can Still Be Used Today.


Tweet Translation: Road construction during the Roman Empire
A well-maintained section of the Via Appia.

The Ancient Roman Road, a Timeless Engineering Feat | At one point there were twenty-nine military highways radiating from Rome and 113 provinces were connected by 372 roads, for a total of more than 250,000 miles (400,000 km), 48,467 miles (78,000 km) of which were paved. These roads were so well built that some of them, such as the Via Aemilia in northern Italy, are still present and intact, overlaid by dirt and modern asphalt.

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  • Mike Austin April 2, 2022, 5:30 PM

    The Romans built roads for the same reason that Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System–to allow the rapid transport of the military from one end of the empire to another.

    The greatest road builders in History were the pre-Colombians in Peru, the Achaemenid Persians, the Romans and the Americans.

    The roads built by the Inca 500 years ago are still in use today. Many a time I have backpacked alone through the wilds of Peru on an old Inca highway. Many times the modern road would be “out of service” due to floods or earthquakes. The locals would simply switch to the Inca road.

    • Vanderleun April 2, 2022, 7:49 PM

      Slacker. You really need to share this sort of thing outside of my comments section, Austin. Get in gear. Just because you’re saved doesn’t mean you can coast. If the saved can’t save the world, who can? (Except Him, of course.)

      • Mike Austin April 3, 2022, 5:04 AM

        I know…I know. I’m getting antsy waiting for the snows to melt in the passes along the Continental Divide so I can ride one of my bicycles to Idaho and back. My mind is wonderfully concentrated therefore. It is hard to focus on anything but logistics and physical conditioning.

        • Denny April 3, 2022, 7:04 AM

          Oh, but coasting is so damn tempting. The older I get, it’s so much easier to bitch about the pain and just ride downhill. Something like the same lazy depravity that has driven the liberals insane.

        • James ONeil April 3, 2022, 9:13 AM

          A friend, that bike mechanics in Colorado, accomplished guitarist; asked to bass at a recording session with a well known singer in Los Angeles, mountain biked there & back to play the gig. No I didn’t ask but I picture him pedaling up the Rockies guitar on his back.

          Basement jam sessioned with him up here, him & my son guitaring, me drumming, he had no problem moving twix 3-4 & 5 over 8 when I’d, just to keep it real (OK, just ’cause I get bored easily.), change my grip on the sticks a wee bit.

          Oh & a Japanese lady friend doing the vocals, we hit the sweet spot, everything right, on Bob Seger’s Rike A Lock.

          He and two friends were up here, some 375 mile off road bikes and inflatable raft tripping across rocks, rivers and tundra above the arctic circle.

  • Milton April 3, 2022, 5:36 AM

    Fascinating. One wonders what sort of maintenance occurred during the lifetime of the still existing Roman roads.

    • Mike Austin April 3, 2022, 6:53 AM

      The legions both built and maintained the roads. The consuls considered such labor as necessary to keep the soldiers in shape.

    • billrla April 3, 2022, 10:53 AM

      Road maintenance was performed by the SPQRDOT: Senate and People of Rome Department of Transportion, known among the locals at RoDOT (Roman DOT). It was a union shop, but, anyone doing sub-standard work was fed to the lions.

      • Mike Austin April 3, 2022, 12:16 PM

        Now that would be an excellent way to improve the American bureaucracy in Washington DC.

  • Roy Lofquist April 3, 2022, 5:56 AM

    The Romans designed the space shuttle.

    The Roman chariots wore ruts in the English roads. When the English started mass production of carts and wagons the construction jigs were set to match the ruts. When the railroads came along they used the same jigs for the engines and rolling stock, thus setting the standard railroad gauge. The original design for the shuttle called for larger diameter booster rockets. The contractor, Morton-Thiokol, was located in Utah and the only practical means of transporting them to Florida was by rail. Unfortunately that meant passing through tunnels in the mountains. The tunnels were not wide enough to accomodate the original design so the the boosters were made slimmer and longer. In fact, the shuttle booster size was set by the width of a horse’s ass.

    • Mike Austin April 3, 2022, 7:01 AM

      The Romans hardly used chariots outside of the circus. Carts were what they used to transport goods across the Empire. When Caesar invaded Britain (55 BC; 54 BC) the tribes there still used chariots in warfare. The Romans considered chariots as antiquated, and easily defeated any tribe that used them.

  • Freddo April 3, 2022, 6:24 AM

    https://youtu.be/4egCVU3arVk?t=502 So we have evidence of major maintenance work thanks to the inscriptions left in the roman milestones. During summer holidays as kid I visited the Pont Du Gard aqueduct several times. Absolutely impressive (these days less so thanks to the new & improved visitor centre, and fencing now prevents kids from running across the top).

  • Dirk April 3, 2022, 9:41 AM

    Amazing actually, in Southern Spain, Roman roads are still in use, well not all but many. It’s interesting how differently Romans built, VS Africans built roads, the Moors also occupied southern Spain both nation states influences are apparent everywhere down south.

    Just last night on our way home from Mountain Mikes pizza and a pitcher or three, I was observing/ commenting regarding a local street which was freshly overlayed last summer. It’s a disaster all ready.
    =====================================================================
    James would be awesome to see a vid of your groups doing music

  • Gordon Scott April 3, 2022, 2:29 PM

    Mind you, the Romans did not have to build for 80,000-plus pound semi trucks. We don’t build for them either. In a rare example of road building company execs and unions working in harmony, it is actually illegal to build above a certain standard. We know how to. We just don’t.

    In the UK road contractors are required to do the needed maintenance for a number of years after building a road. That cost must be built into the bid.

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  • ahem April 5, 2022, 7:58 AM

    I wish the civic leaders in Chicago knew how to do that; there’s road maintenance every 7 minutes or whenever there’s a local election, whichever comes first.

  • Jim April 5, 2022, 11:14 PM

    The I-45 widening project, South of Houston to the “Texas City Wye” interchange, is being built to the 80,000 lb. Challenge level, and then some.

    Because the various Texas Ports are being dredged, deepened and widened to accomodate those Panama Canal II ships, and their many thousands of containers. As the brand new local Amazon Distribution Center(s) < !!! will attest. The overpasses are being built to Cheyenne Mountain standards, at the least.

    But the 50k homes built in this zone since 2000, well, they'll just fly apart at the first sneeze of even a distant nuke. They're not building these roads for US, you see.

    Jim
    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX