If the Roman Empire excelled in anything, it was a genius for public works. Its roads were the first ever. When you travel from Italy or the south of France to Spain, for example, the highway states that on some sections you are using the old Roman route. Its legacy is alive.
Roman governors soon realized the importance of creating a road network over their territories. And, in the Empire, road construction was always a matter that was directly overseen by successive Emperors or their immediate deputies.
Roman roads could also be said to be the first smart roads in that their construction techniques applied all the technology available to them and the engineering concepts they used were incredible for their time. They took into account resistance to movement on gradients and longitudinal slope, never greater than the 8% over which animal-drawn carriages could transport cargo. When necessary, the Romans levelled land to the millimeter, calculated according to the hardness of the mountain rock, and they used a collection of solid, smart materials to transport heavy items at speed. They also had accurate signage.
All kinds of goods and materials were transported over Roman roads, from Turkish marble to Andalusian olive oil, gold, lead, cereals, etc. Both armies and citizen travelers moved by them. Many high-ranking Romans, who knew by which routes people traveled, chose to be buried at privileged locations next to the roads that ensured passers-by leaving and entering Rome would visit their tombs. “I am next to the road, thus powerful,” they seemed to be saying. Everyone was aware of the importance of a road network that linked territories, trade, the economy and communications over a large part of Europe and Asia.