Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Chamorro A., Echaveguren T., Allen E., Contreras M., Dagá J., de Solminihac H., Lara L.E. (2020)

Sustainable Risk Management of Rural Road Networks Exposed to Natural Hazards: Application to Volcanic Lahars in Chile

Revista : Sustainability
Volumen : 12
Número : 17
Páginas : 6774
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Natural hazards may temporarily or permanently interrupt the normal operation of rural road networks. The potential social, economic, environmental and physical impacts of natural events on rural road infrastructures empirically evidence the need to incorporate a sustainable risk approach to manage rural road networks exposed to natural hazards. Available risk management systems are applied to major networks emphasizing the physical risk of road infrastructure in terms of expected economic losses and travel time delays, without considering a systemic approach and other dimensions of risk, such as social vulnerability and the consequent socio-economic effects. The study proposes a sustainable risk management framework for rural roads that accounts for the social vulnerability of rural population, the physical vulnerability of rural roads and the environmental context in terms of natural hazards. The proposed framework is applicable to rural road networks exposed to major natural events that permanently or temporarily disrupt accessibility and mobility in the system. A case study is selected from a developing country, due to the socio-economic condition of the rural population and high vulnerability in the context of natural events. The proposed risk management framework is scaled at the network level rather than an element based analysis, or project level approach, considering the interdependencies between road links, the variability of road infrastructure types in the rural context, and the impacts on network accessibility and mobility due to natural events. The proposed framework is applied to a rural road network exposed to volcanic hazard, specifically lahar flows that are usually the most recurrent and disruptive process in terms of road infrastructure. Outcomes demonstrate that rural population present high social vulnerability levels, resulting in a slower recovery when exposed to the effects of infrastructure disruptions. Therefore, considering social vulnerability under a sustainable risk management approach depicts the sustainable role of rural road networks, which commonly are managed only under a physical vulnerability perspective. The proposed methodology will allow road agencies and municipalities to design sustainable mitigation and recovery strategies by incorporating dimensions such as social vulnerability, probability of failure of road links and their impacts on road accessibility and mobility due to natural hazards.