The Importance of Designing Effective Urban Transportation Infrastructure

Transport infrastructure is a key component in the success of any country. It is the backbone of any economy, and without it, countries would be left with no way to transport people and goods from one place to another.

Transport infrastructure is a key element of any city. It allows people, goods, and services to travel from one place to another. Without effective transport systems and infrastructure, our cities would not function. However, transport is also a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

With such a key role, it is vital that transport infrastructure is in good condition and effective for the future.

Five types of transport infrastructure

Transport infrastructure is the fixed installations, structures, and networks that provide a framework for the movement of people and goods. Urban transport infrastructure can be collated under five broad headings:

  • Roads

  • Bridges and tunnels

  • Rail and trams

  • Waterways

  • Bike paths and walkways

Dissecting the diverse types of transportation infrastructure

When planning our urban transport infrastructure, urban planners must consider the transportation needs of our urban population today and how those needs may evolve. Only by doing so can they plan the infrastructure we need to deliver sustainable transport solutions in the future.


Roads are the most common transportation infrastructure that we use daily. They are used to connect separate places with each other and make it easier for people to travel. Roads can be classified into three categories: highways, arterial roads, and local roads.

Highways are the largest type of road in terms of capacity and speed. They have limited access points and can be used by all types of vehicles, including trucks and buses.

Arterial roads provide more access points than highways do but they have a lower capacity as well as slower speeds.

Local roads provide less access than arterial and highways, serve smaller areas, and have lower speeds than both.

Bridges and tunnels

Bridges are structures that allow people to cross an obstacle like a river, valley, or road, on foot or by vehicle. There are two main types of bridges: suspension bridges and arch bridges. Suspension bridges use cables to support the weight of the bridge, while arch bridges use arches that form an opening in both ends of the bridge ─ this allows less weight on each side, which makes them more stable than suspension bridges.

A tunnel is an underground passageway for pedestrians, vehicles, and/or trains. A tunnel can be either a subway or highway that runs beneath ground level.

Rail and trams

Railways are built for freight and passenger transport. The most common use of rail transport is in urban areas where they provide quick and efficient access to places not connected by road. They provide a form of transportation that is more efficient and cleaner than many other forms of transportation. Transporting large numbers of people, railways help to relieve congestion on our roads and reduce noise and air pollution in our cities.

Trams are a type of rail transport that is powered by electricity, and they can be found in many cities across the world. City trams fall into two categories: street trams, which run on rails in the middle of the street (like buses), and tramways, which run on rails along a set route.


Waterways have been used for transporting goods and people for centuries. They offer a unique way to get from one place to another.

Some waterways are natural, and others are man-made. Natural waterways include rivers, streams, and brooks. Man-made waterways include canals, ditches, and trenches.

Every type of waterway has its own set of pros and cons that make it desirable to use as a form of transportation infrastructure. For example, natural waterways often have more issues with flooding than man-made ones.

Bike paths and walkways

Bike paths and walkways make it easier for people who want to bike around the city to do so without having to worry about cars or pedestrians getting in their way. They also help cyclists stay safe by providing a clear path for them to ride on their bikes. Bike paths can be separated from the road, or they can be right next to it. However, they should always be separated from sidewalks to protect pedestrians.

When it comes to transport infrastructure planning, things are complicated

Planning future transport infrastructure is a complex endeavor that requires decision-makers to consider many factors. There are many constraints, such as the availability of land, the cost of building and operating transport systems, and public opinion.

Several tools have been developed to help planners make these decisions. These tools can address some of the complexities involved in planning future transport infrastructure by providing information on what has been done in other locations and what might work best in each situation.

Whatever tools an urban transport planner employs, they must overcome the most complex question of all: how do you plan for what we don’t know?

Other questions that transportation planning must address include:

  • What kind of transportation system do we want?

  • How do we make sure that it’s sustainable?

  • What are the costs associated with building this new system?

  • Should we start from scratch or work with what we have now?

These questions are difficult to answer but they must be answered before any progress can be made toward a better transportation system. And achieving this is a goal that none of us can afford to ignore.

At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed, and created. To leverage our experience in sustainable design and construction, contact ACB Consulting.

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