We see a lot of highways in our locality on a daily basis. These highways have made our commute easier than before as they have eased up the traffic flow. Have you ever wondered who designed these highways? Specialized civil engineering firms are responsible for the design of these highways. A highway engineering consultant is appointed to take care of the end-to-end affairs of a particular project.
What is highway engineering all about?
Highway engineering is a sub-division of the broad term called civil engineering. This department takes care of the planning, design, execution, operation and maintenance of the highways, roads, bridges and tunnels in a particular location. As you can see, it is a very important department because a highway engineering consultant has to be careful while approving the quality of these projects.
Even if there is a slight drop in the quality of the roads & highways, it affects the safety of the people and vehicles traveling on them. Highway engineers should also ensure that the best materials are used for designing the pavements, highways and highway intersections. They should be extremely shrewd in using geometrical patterns to calculate the highway intersection points and the thickness of pavements.
What is the design stage?
After the initial planning and funding stages, highway engineers are responsible for the most important stage known as the design stage. These engineers ensure that the highways they design, pass all the safety, service and quality standards. They have to consider the entire topography of a particular place before designing pavements and highways in that particular location.
What are the types of highways usually designed by highway engineers?
The highway engineers design 5 main types of highways in any topography. They are:
Flexible pavement design – Asphalt pavement made using 3 to 4 layers; service life is usually 2o to 30 years
Rigid pavement design – Portland cement concrete pavements used usually in major highways and airports; service life is usually 30 to 40 years
Flexible pavement overlay design – Made using three types of overlay on flexible pavements – asphalt concrete, Portland cement concrete and ultra-thin Portland cement concrete
Rigid pavement overlay design – Constructed to renovate a worn-out or old rigid pavement before it has reached the end of its service life
Drainage system design – covers the concept of designing proper drainage systems for the highways; though roads are made from high-quality materials, the drainage system needs to be proper for the highways to last their entire service life and beyond.