Ron Munro's Story
Ron travelled to Ireland and six of the Nordic countries to study methods for road construction and road maintenance over peat.
He met with other highway engineers who were also involved in building roads over ‘blanket bog’ (an area of peatland forming where there is a climate of high rainfall allowing peat to develop over large expanses of undulating ground). He wanted to learn more about their design philosophies and the engineering practices needed to deal with such roads, which continually ‘settle’ after construction. Ron also wished to hear from experts about how other countries had tackled this issue and the economic implications. He met with relevant universities, Highway Departments and material suppliers in order to gain a wide perspective.
Ron discovered an immediate result – a method of repairing a ‘floating’ road over peat. This type of road is built on top of the peat, rather than the more expensive method of excavating the peat out and replacing it with rock or gravel.
"Within a couple of months of my Fellowship we successfully used this method to repair a road that was sinking into the peat, and that we previously had no solution to".
In 1998 the European Union set up a series of territorial programmes to encourage the sharing of information between Member States. The Northern Periphery Programme was one of these and was looking for projects that could share information across northern Europe. One condition was that any project had to have a Scottish partner.
Ron’s employer at that time, The Highland Council, asked him to see if a project could be created with the contacts he had made on his Fellowship, in order to share information on low volume rural roads. These lifeline roads were vital for the survival of rural communities and industries, but were the forgotten roads in the national context.
The pilot EU ROADEX project was created in 1998 as a “ROAD information EXchange”as a direct result of this work, enabling the sharing of information between Norway, Finland, Sweden and Scotland. By 2012 this had grown into a pan European collaboration including Ireland, Greenland and Iceland, as well as the original member countries.
Along the way ROADEX has given workshops in the Russian Federation, and presented technical papers at conferences around the world. ROADEX technologies are even being trialled as far away as New Zealand. ROADEX has also presented low volume road technologies to the World Bank in Washington twice, and these are being considered for use on sub-Saharan roads.
ROADEX and Ron’s Fellowship journey continues.