Brief History of Road and Highways

in #history5 years ago (edited)


Modern Road networks maketh our lives easier as we travel across borders. Without roads, it would be hard for cars to travel and its nonexistence can cause a fortune to vehicle operators and owners for car maintenance. Travels of goods had equipment has been easier compared to the Early Roman Empire Period.

Now, let us discuss briefly the history of roads and its development.

Brief History of Roads:

In the land of Mesopotamia, roads with hard surfaces were found and was said to be constructed around 3,500 BC. Ur and Uruk had stone-paved roads on the streets. Another example of old roads can found in the Island of Crete.

The function of these early road systems were: (1) for armies in line with their defense against any form of invasion; (2) transportation of goods among the neighboring communities.

An example of Roman Road found in Portugal
Image Source

Meanwhile, it was the Romans who discovered cement which allowed them to expand road networks. These road networks are still existing.

What is the composition of the Romans roads during the Roman Empire?

  1. Layer of small crush stones;
  2. Over-layered by small stones compacted firmly;
  3. Massive stone blocks properly set and with cement mortar.

Pierre-Marie-Jérôme Trésaguet
Father of Modern Road Building
Image Source:

Meanwhile in the 1764, Jerome Tresaguet developed the first scientific method of road construction and maintenance. He was able to improve the drainage, stone foundation, and grade of road. Because of his accomplishment, Napoleon was able to build roads and highways in France.

Image Source:
Thomas Telford
Godfather of Civil Engineering

Meanwhile, Thomas Telford, a Scottish Engineer and president and founder of Institute of Civil Engineer improved the construction method proposed by Tresaguet with stones having 3in thickness (min), 7in height, and 5in breadth. He also employed flat sub-grade allowing variety of stones to be used in the construction.

It is amazing to know that through the course of time, modern engineering technology was able to transcend and made human activities easier. At this juncture, let us discuss the brief history of national roads in the Philippines.

In history, roads had also been regulated for such reasons. The early Saxon Laws imposed duties for the people to perform:

  1. Repair roads and bridges;
  2. Repair the garrisons and castles;
  3. Aid repel invasions.

There was also a decree that was made after the Norman Conquest of England:

  1. The Highway of the king is deemed sacred. Land owners should not exceed their boundaries of the king's land.
  2. For those who live near the road, they are required to drain the road and refrain from planting flora as it may cause inconvenience to commuters. It was evident then that the public has the duty to protect and maintain the roadway.

Brief History of National Roads in the Philippines

Department of Public Works and Highways or DPWH has been long withstanding as the infrastructure arm of the Philippines. It started during the Spanish Colonial Era. t was in 1900s when the transportation depended on roads. At this period, the construction of highways in the Philippines seemed to be impossible. It was during in the American Period when the roadways were developed in the Philippines.

Just like any other government agencies, its development depended on the administration as result of changing of administration policies and organization structure.

Rehabilitation and construction of roads occurred after the World War II since a lot of roads were destroyed due to bombs thrown in different areas. It was paid by the Japanese Government. Philippines was also able to receive grant from the US government.

It was Maximo Paterno who was the first Minister of Ministry of Public Works and Communications (1899). Since then, it has developed and replicated modern engineering technologies that ensures safety standards in infrastructure buildings.

Ayala Avenue in 1950s

EDSA in 1950s
Source of Images:

DPWH is responsible for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining infrastructures such as road networks, bridges, and a lot more gearing towards sustainable growth and development of the country.

DPWH has also set the classification of roads and highways. The table below explains it.


The country was and still is able to construct and repair road networks through international bank loans and aid from other countries. One example is the road network built by the Japanese government in Cebu through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

It was also said that his era serves as the Golden Age of Infrastructure because the government aims to build a lot of road networks and improvement of the transportation service to the public. I must say that building of infrastructure is a crucial part as it is part of development of a country and decentralization of the dense population in Metro Manila.

It is also pivotal that these roads and highways be used for public use, meaning vendors should not park their carts and trucks should not use it as their parking space.

How about you? How do you view this Golden Age of Infrastructure? Do you view it as pivotal? Share your thoughts.

Elements of Roads and Highways [Second Edition] by Max B.Fajardo Jr.
Ancient roads and bridges -
Roman road system-
Thomas Telford-
Brief History of National Roads in the Philippines -


Great post.

Thank you.

very very beautifull.I like it you great post.

Informative, nice to read part of history again. :)

Yes @zararina, natutuwa din akong nagrereview sa notes ng kapatid ko that is why I ended up with this post. ^_^

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