Smart Ways to Make Uzbekistan’s Road Networks Climate-Resilient

As a double-landlocked country, Uzbekistan’s economic growth and development relies largely on efficient cross-border transport and trade networks. Photo credit: ADB.

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Develop a digital framework, adapt pavement innovations, and leverage ICT systems.


Uzbekistan is one of the Central Asian countries that have significantly boosted road infrastructure spending to transform road networks, enhance trade, and improve local economic and social opportunities. However, much of this spending has so far gone toward rebuilding roads without leveraging advances in strengthening design standards and codes made in the last several decades and not adequately considering the immediate and looming effects of climate change.

Policy makers and engineers need to rethink road design and construction processes, standards, and codes; leverage innovative design strategies and resource materials; and improve quality control to ensure roads are resilient to climate and natural hazards, accommodate increasing travel demand, enhance regional connectivity, improve road safety, and enable the decarbonization of the transport sector.

Adapting digital technologies, for example, can enhance road agencies’ ability to monitor and respond to climate change impacts.


To build a modern and climate-resilient transport infrastructure, Uzbekistan must begin with harnessing innovation and improving its standards and guidelines.

Develop a digital system for road standards.

Uzbekistan’s Committee of Roads lacks a digital framework that can provide planners and designers with a single source of cohesive and clear standards and guidelines.

A digital framework will help organize, entrench, and harmonize recent and future technical capacity gains for Uzbekistan road agencies. This system will encourage innovation and can serve as a clearinghouse for relevant standards, specifications, handbooks, and research.

Implement context-sensitive design (CSD) strategies.

The country’s current geometric standards (road curvature, road width, and pavement depth) are highly prescriptive and minimum requirements for even roads with lower traffic volume are far higher than international norms. This often results in roads that are overdesigned and uneconomical, and the extra construction materials required lead to high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Design engineers do not have much flexibility or opportunity to use engineering judgement and are required to use standards that result in designs that often do not offer value for money. Increasing resources in the design stage and empowering design engineers to consider more economical context-sensitive design solutions will reduce both costs and GHG emissions, while ensuring sustainability.

Implement new pavement innovation and design strategies.

The rise of new construction materials and technologies, such as the availability of big data, has helped improved the quality, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of asphalt concrete and cement concrete pavement. Other smart or innovative materials include self-healing asphalt pavement, continuously reinforced (jointless) concrete pavement, ultra-performing thin lift wearing course, and use of recycled materials in the pavement and subbase.

Utilize artificial intelligence (AI) for design decisions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms can be applied to inform pavement design alternatives that minimize embedded emissions, maximize climate resilience, and improve cost-effectiveness compared to traditional or standard pavement designs. Mainstreaming this type of optimization approach can improve the efficiency and quality of road network projects, especially in areas prone to flooding and temperature fluctuations.

Improve quality control and oversight during construction.

Modernize specifications and introduce more tests on finished road surfaces covering all pavement layers and not just measuring road roughness, which is limited to the surface layer. Penalties for non-compliance should be strictly enforced for all pavement layers.  This will help reduce costs and frequency of repairs during the maintenance phase.

Leverage information and communication technology (ICT).

Maximizing ICT and intelligent transport system (ITS) technologies can enhance road agencies’ ability to monitor and respond to climate change impacts. They can provide early warning on road condition with statistical information and efficient enforcement techniques. It is critical to have an intelligent transport system master plan, standard designs, and guidelines, that may include traffic information or control, and communication network operation or management including overloading control.

Upscale and maximize the use of weigh-in-motion (WIM) systems.

A weigh-in-motion system uses sensors to measure a moving vehicle’s classification, weight, length, and other features. With effective monitoring and enforcement, this can help reduce overloaded vehicles which cause premature pavement damage and can thereby reduce life cycle maintenance costs and GHG emissions, especially for key trunk roads. The Committee for Roads is piloting these systems, and could consider upscaling to larger portion of the trunk road network once operationalized.


While Uzbekistan has made positive and incremental progress in improving its road standards and codes, these gains must be entrenched, and more modernization must be implemented to fully transform the road sector so that it can deliver safer and more sustainable infrastructure. Policy makers must align road development efforts toward low carbon transport road sector pathways, which will contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement objectives.

Pawan Karki
Principal Transport Specialist, Transport Sector Office, Sectors Group, Asian Development Bank

Pawan Karki has 37 years of experience working on transport projects in Asia, EU, and UAE.  As ADB project officer, he is responsible for technical assistance, loan processing, and administration of road projects in Central and West Asia. He holds master’s degrees in Highway Engineering from the University of Strathclyde and Civil Engineering from Moscow Automobile and Road Construction State Technical University.

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