Highway Engineering- Definition, Importance and Construction Details

Highway engineering is an important topic in civil engineering. It includes the study of roads in depth. The technical aspects involved in this subject plays a significant role in construction of different types of roads. In this blog, I will show you all the details of the subject including the definition, topics, importance etc.

Let’s start from scratch.

What is Highway Engineering

Highway engineering is a subset of highway engineering that deals with the planning, development, and upkeep of various types of roads, tunnels and bridges. It plays an important role in ensuring safe and efficient transport of people and goods. It entails researching the following topics:

1) Highway planning, location, and growth.

2) The materials needed to build a highway.

3) The performance of highway traffic and its regulation.

4) Road drainage, etc.

Before we jump on to the details, let me tell you the importance of highway engineering.

Importance of Highway Engineering

Highways top view
Highways top view

The Importance of roads is summarised below.

1. They provide transportation for people, commodities, raw materials, and other items to various parts of the world.

2. In hilly areas, they are the only means of contact.

4. Assists in the upkeep of law and order in a government.

Let’s talk a bit about the planning of highways in the next section.

Planning and Development of Highway Engineering

The prediction of existing and potential traffic volumes on a road network is part of highway planning.

Highway planning is also a fundamental requirement for highway construction. Highway engineers work hard to anticipate and assess all potential civil consequences of highway systems.

The negative effects on the environment, such as noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution, and other ecological impacts, are among the factors to consider.

What are Highway plans?

In highway engineering, Highway plans or Highway drawings are drawings created from data obtained during various surveys conducted for the purpose of locating a highway.

The main map, index map, preliminary survey plans, and other plans or sketches prepared in connection with a road project are examples. On separate papers, the specifics of additional works such as bridges, culverts, railway crossings, and so on are planned.

Purposes and Objectives of Highway Plan

1) To discover how the highway works.

2) To estimate the cost of the road project.

Its time to know about the construction.

Construction of highways

Newly constructed highways
Newly constructed highways

In most cases, extensive surveys and subgrade planning precede highway construction. There are many aspects of highway design that can be broken down into technological and commercial components.

The following are some examples of each:

Elements of technology

  • Material quality
  • Installation techniques
  • Traffic

Commercial elements 

  • Environmental considerations in contracts
  • Aspects of politics and law
  • Concerns from the public

Regardless of the project type, highway construction usually starts at the lowest elevation of the site and progresses upward. By looking over the project’s geotechnical requirements, we get an idea about the following:

  • Current ground condition.
  • Specific equipment requirement for excavation, grading, and material transportation to and from the site.
  • Properties of material to be excavated.
  • For below-grade work, dewatering requirement.
  • Excavation safety criteria
  • Quantities of water for dust control and compaction

How about the maintenance of highways? I will show you in the next section.

Maintenance of highways

The ultimate goal of highway maintenance is to correct flaws and maintain the structure and usability of the pavement. In order to construct an adequate maintenance plan, defects must be identified, recognised, and registered. Flexible and rigid pavements have different defects.

The four primary goals of highway maintenance are as follows:

  1. Repairing functional pavement defects helps to prolong the pavement’s functional and structural life. 
  2. Ensure road protection and signage.
  3. Keep the highway in a usable state
  4. Highway systems and all of their components can be kept in initial, as-built condition by following routine maintenance procedures.

Last, but not the least a bit about the safety.

Highway Engineering Safety

Highway engineering safety is important since it involves the life of people. Automated traffic signals can be used to further ensure this.

Highway under construction
Highway under construction
  • Safety management is a comprehensive approach to reducing the frequency and severity of traffic incidents. 
  • The key to improving highway safety is to design, develop, and maintain highway structures that are much more tolerant of the average range of man/machine interactions with highways. 
  • Over time, technological advances in highway engineering have enhanced the methods used in design, construction, and maintenance.

That’s it. Let me know if you need any further details.

Happy learning!

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