The First Smart Road?

Roads have been constructed for centuries, but have intelligent roads been around for as long? A good case can be made by examining the above photograph. The roadway is found in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.  The Romans were on to something here and you will see similar approaches used in modern engineering.  

You can see a road with curb and wide sidewalks providing safe passage separating pedestrians from horse-drawn wagons.  The tight stone paver pavement makes for an all-weather surface. Grooves cut into the stone pavers guide the chariot or wagon through the crosswalk – intelligent, handsfree driving! To use the grooves, the chariot had to have a standardized width. A standardized width or wheelbase is essential in modern vehicle design and similarly, railroads. 

The road is also an early example of street scaping. The three steppingstones make a pedestrian, raised crosswalk, though clearly not accessible. Chariots and wagons would have had to slowdown to make it through the steppingstones, hence narrowing the roadway for a traffic calming feature. The deep curbs provide for stormwater and sewage retainment and infiltration. The steppingstones kept the citizens clean and dry.

Photograph from

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