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Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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Superelevation at Horizontal Curves


In this lecture;
--------------------A- Definition and Justifications.
B- Min. Radius of Circular Curve.
C- Superelevation Section (Runoff
& Runout).
D- Superelevation Attainment .
The information listed in this lecture is mainly taken from the Policy on Geometric Design of
Highways and Streets (AASHTO, 2011), Iraqi Highway Design Manual (SORB, 2005) and
Traffic and Highway Engineering (Garber and Hoel, 2009).

A- Superelevation: Definition and Justification


Superelevation is the banking ()
of

roadway

around

curves

to

counterbalance the centripetal force


of a vehicle traversing a
horizontal curve.

The provision of superelevation - one edge of


a roadway higher than the other - will
prevent vehicles from overturning or sliding
off the road. The side friction between
pavement

and

tires

also

help

in

counterbalancing the centripetal (outward


pull) force.
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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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There are limitations for values of highways cross slopes. The minimum rate of
cross slope applicable to the travelled way is determined by drainage needs. In
contrast, the maximum amount of superelevation should not be exceeded for
preventing slow-moving vehicle from sliding or overturning to the inside of the
curve when the road is covered with rain, snow, or ice.
According to AASHTO, the minimum rate of cross slope, also called normal crown is
(1.5 2)% while the maximum amount of superelevation is (10 12)%.

B. Minimum Radius of Circular Curve


When a vehicle is moving around a circular
curve the centripetal force will attempt to pull
the vehicle outside the curve. In flat curves
(with large radii) this force can be fully
counterbalanced

by

the

side

friction.

However, for sharper curves, only side friction


will not be enough to prevent vehicles from
sliding outwards and hence superelevation is
needed.
The minimum radius of a circular curve R for a
vehicle travelling at V kph can be determined
by considering the equilibrium of the vehicle
with respect to its moving up or down the
incline. If is the angle of inclination of the
highway, the component of the weight down
the incline is W sin , and the frictional force
also acting down the incline is . W cos .

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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2
Where is the coefficient of side friction. The centrifugal force is W . V .

Other forces acting on the car are its weight W and force exerted against the wheel
by the roadway surface. These forces are the normal force N, and friction forces F,
so: F N. Appling equilibrium by algebraic summing for forces parallel to the
roadway gives:
cos (

W V2
.
) = F + W sin
g R

N = W cos + sin (

; since F = N and

W V2
.
)
g R

But, superelevation e = tan . ------ >


V2
V2
W V2
W V2
cos ( .
) = f ( w cos + sin ( .
) + W sin ----- >
= e + f + e. f
g R
g R
gR
gR
V2
e+ f
=
gR 1 e. f

------ > The term ef is small compared to one, and may be omitted, so

the relationship can be simplified to

V2
R=
127( e + f )

Where:

V: speed in km/hr and

R: radius in m.

It can be obviously noted that minimum radius of the circular curve Rmin is occurred
when applying maximum values for the rate of superelevation emax and coefficient
of side friction max.

Coefficients of side friction for different design speed are as following (AASHTO):
Design speed km/hr

50

65

80

100

110

Max. f

0.19

0.16

0.14

0.12

0.10

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

14 15

Generally, maximum rates of superelevation are:


(10 12)%
8%
(4 6) %

for rural highway;


for rural highway with snow or ice effect;
for urban street.

According to AASHTO recommendations and for design purposes use (6-8) % for
rural highways and (4-6) % for urban one.
EXAMPLE PROBLEM: A) What is the minimum radius of curvature allowable for a
roadway with a 100 km/h design speed, assuming that the maximum allowable
superelevation rate and the pavement coefficient of friction are both 0.12? B) What
is the actual maximum superelevation rate allowable under AASHTO recommended
standards for a 100 km/h design speed, if the maximum value of and minimum
curve radius allowed by AASHTO for this speed are 0.12 and 490m respectively?
Round the answer down to the nearest whole percent.
Sol.)
A) Minimum radius of curvature for 100 km/h design speed:
V2
1002
=
= 328 m
Rmin. =
127( e + f )
127(0.12 + 0.12)

B) Actual maximum superelevation rate for AASHTO recommended standards for


100 km/h is:
1002
V2
0.12 = 0.0406 ---- >
f =
e=
127( 490)
127 R

Rounding, emax = 0.04 = 4%.

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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C. Superelevation Transition Section


The superelevation transition length is comprised of superelevation runoff and
tangent runout. For reasons of safety and comfort, the pavement rotation in the
superelevation transition section should be effected over a length that is sufficient
to make such rotation imperceptible to drivers. To be pleasing in
appearance, the pavement edges should not appear distorted to the driver.
As shown previously in the Horizontal Alignment lecture, transition (spiral) curve
may be used to provide smooth transition from the tangent to the main circular
curve. When a transition curve is not used, the roadway tangent directly adjoins the
main circular curve. This type of transition design is referred to as the tangent-tocurve transition.
The figure below shows the locations of superelevation runoff and tangent runoff
for curves with and without spiral transition sections.
U

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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C-1 Superelevation Runoff.


The superelevation runoff section consists of the length of roadway needed to
accomplish a change in outside-lane cross slope from zero (flat) to full
superelevation, or vice versa. Its length usually ranges within (30-200)m.
1) Location with respect to end of curve:
I- In alignment design with spirals: the superelevation runoff is effected over the
whole of the transition curve. The length of the superelevation runoff should be
equal to the spiral length for both the tangent-to-spiral (TS) transition at the
beginning and the spiral-to-curve (SC) transition at the end of the circular curve. In
this design, the whole of the circular curve has full superelevation. In case of the
length of spiral is less than the runoff length, it is appropriate to use the
superelevation runoff instead of the length of spiral curve.
II- In the tangent-to-curve design (no spiral): the location of the superelevation
runoff with respect to the point of curvature (PC) must be determined. Normal
practice is to divide the runoff length between the tangent and curved sections and
to avoid placing the entire runoff length on either the tangent or the curve (see the
figure). Generally, the proportion of runoff length placed on the tangent varies from
0.6 to 0.8 (i.e., 60 to 80 percent) with a large majority of highway agencies in the
USA using 0.67 (i.e., 67 percent) as a single value for all street and highway curves.
Table below shows AASHTO recommendations.

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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2) Length of superelevation runoff (Tangent-to-Curve transition):


For pleasing appearance and comfort, the length of superelevation runoff Lr where
no spiral used should be based on a maximum acceptable difference between the
longitudinal grades of the axis of rotation and the edge of pavement (relative
gradient, ).
According to AASHTO, the minimum length of runoff should be determined as:

: Experience indicates that relative gradients of


0.80 and 0.35 % provide acceptable runoff
lengths for design speeds of 20 and 130 kph,
respectively. Current practice is to use max.
relative gradient value 0.50% or a longitudinal
slope of 1:200 at 80 kph.
n1: is equal to one-half the total number of lanes
for undivided streets or highways where the
cross section is rotated about the highway
centerline

The application of the max. relative gradient () provides runoff lengths for 4-lane
undivided roadways that are double those for 2-lane roadways; those for 6-lane
undivided roadways would be tripled. This may be desirable but it is often not
practical to provide such lengths in design. Empirically, it is recommended that min.
superelevation runoff lengths be adjusted downward using adjustment factors as
listed in the table below.

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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C-II Tangent Runout.


The tangent runout section consists of the length of roadway needed to accomplish
a change in outside-lane cross slope from the normal cross slope rate to zero (flat),
or vice versa.
Minimum length of tangent runout (Lt).
The length of tangent runout is determined
by the amount of adverse cross slope to be
removed and the rate at which it is
removed. To effect a smooth edge of
pavement profile, the rate of removal
should equal the relative gradient used to
define the superelevation runoff length.
Based on this rationale, the following
equation should be used to compute the
minimum tangent runout length:
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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

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According to AASHTO, the table below listed minimum superelevation runoff and
tangent runout lengths for different design speeds.

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Dr. Firas Asad

Highway Eng.

Superelevation

14 15

D. Superelevation Attainment.
It is essential that, the change from a crowned cross-section to a superelevated on
to be achieved without causing any discomfort to motorists or creating unsafe
condition. One from four methods can be used to achieve this change on undivided
highway:
1- A crowned pavement is rotated about the profile centerline;
2- A crowned pavement is rotated about the profile inside edge;
3- A crowned pavement is rotated about the profile outside edge;
4- A straight cross-slope pavement is rotated about the profile outside edge.
Selection of the method is depending on:
A- which one will provide pleasant appearance;
B- which one will provide drainage requirements;
C- Cost of cut and fill and paving material.
The change in cross slope begins by removing the adverse cross slope from the lane
or lanes on the outside of the curve on a length of tangent just ahead of tangent-tospiral point TS (the tangent runout). Between the TS and SC, the spiral curve and the
superelevation runoff are coincident and the traveled way is rotated to reach the
full superelevation at the spiral-to-curve point SC. This arrangement is reversed on
leaving the curve. In this design, the whole of the circular curve has full
superelevation.
The figure below shows diagrammatic profiles showing the four methods of
attaining superelevation for a curve to the right.

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Highway Eng.

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Highway Eng.

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