You are on page 1of 3

1Parameters for the Design of a Road Structure


In order to design a road structure, it is necessary for the designer of the structure to take several
parameters into account:

The projected use of the structure (highway, secondary road, rural road etc.), characteristics of
the in situ material, and the geometric design as it relates to the natural materials. Also, the
designer of the structure must take in consideration the on-site conditions which can influence
the lifespan of the road, such as the quality of natural materials, climate, drainage, etc.

The designer must obtain information in accordance with the details set out below in order to
complete the design. It should be noticed that in the absence of information, the designer is
obliged to rely on estimates.

Engineering Criteria

Are there other engineering specifications or criteria required to be applied in the design of the
structure? If so, what are they?

Design Lifespan

What is the total design lifespan, in years?


The design of the road structure is based on the total projected traffic to traverse a section of the
road during its design lifespan, and the composition of the traffic, from the point of view of its
configuration and load. It is custom to define for the planned road:

* The distribution of axle loads based on the appropriate axle list for trucks.
* Number of trucks on an average day
* Number of truck operation days in the year
* Principal hours of operation during the day

A. Width

What is the width of the planned road? How many travel lanes in each direction? Is there a
separation planned between the two travel directions? If so, in what form?

B. The Geometric Design

How much fill is planned above the native soil (in-situ material)? Or to what depth is
excavation planned into the native soil?

Details on the in situ soil are required to a depth of 2 to 3 metres from the bottom of the
designed road structure. The depth from which information is required relates to the traffic load,
as heavy traffic has a larger impact on the depth.

Drainage of the Area

What are the drainage conditions for the area where the work is planned?

In situ Soil

A. General

In situ soil- The material upon which the road structure will be borne.

With respect to the road structure, attention must be paid to the in situ soil to a depth of 2 to 3

With respect to the bearing capacity for filling materials, the in situ soil will be tested to a depth
related to the height of the planned fill.

B. Geotechnical Characteristics

Visual calssification of the in situ soil is very important so as to take into account the natural
conditions which may not be evident from AASHTO classification; such as the presence of
boulders and large rock bodies mixed in among the finer local material.
The following geotechnical characteristics are relevant to identify and resolve issues of
sensitivity to water, swelling, frost heave:

* Gradation of the material

* Atterberg Limits
* If the in situ soil has a known characteristic, the extent to which the characteristic is present
should be checked, such as a check of free swell or the precentage and swelling pressure in
clayey materials

C. Bearing Capacity

What is the CBR of the in situ soil that was tested?

In cases of fill being placed above native soil, one must know the strength characteristics of the
in situ soil as well as the fill material which is planned to be used in the application.
In cases of excavation one must test the strength of the in situ soil at the design depth under the
bottom of the road structure.

In case of in situ soil that is not rock, full CBR estimates (number of tests in proportion to the
size of project) so as to test the sensitivity of the material to water and pressure.

What is the modulus of the in situ soil? Using a resilient modulus test.

Rocky in situ soil should be tested only for suspected areas of failure and water/thaw sensitivity.