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Elements of a

Typical Cross-section of
Road and Highway drainage
Transportation Engineering I
Dr. Attaullah Shah

A way or path over which cyclists,
vehicles and pedestrians can pass
Roads are normally used for
transportation within a country.

Advantages of Roads
Nearest to the man, as for going to airport,
harbor or railway station.
Can be used by all types of vehicles from
cycles to trailers.
Can lead to any remote area and road
users have freedom of movement.
Vehicle movements are not time bound,
roads are open to traffic for 24 hours.

Typical Road Cross-Section

Typical Road Cross-Section

Cross-Section Elements

The cross section of a road includes some

or all of the following elements:
Traveled way
Traffic Barriers
Bicycle and pedestrian facilities
Drainage channels and side slopes

Two Lane Rural Highway


Urban Highway Cross-Section

Selection of appropriate
cross-section elements
In selecting the appropriate cross-section
elements and dimensions, designers need
to consider a number of factors:
Volume and composition (percent trucks,
buses, and recreational vehicles) of the
vehicular traffic expected to use the facility
The likelihood that cyclists and pedestrians
will use the route
Climatic conditions

Selection of appropriate
cross-section elements
The presence of natural or human made
obstructions adjacent to the roadway (e.g., rock
cliffs, large trees, wetlands, buildings, power
Type and intensity of development along the
section of the highway facility that is being
Safety of the users
The most appropriate design is the one that
balances the mobility needs of the people using
the facility (motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists)
with the physical constraints of the corridor within
which the facility is located.

Right of Way
The right of way can be described generally
as the publicly owned area of land that
encompasses all the various cross-section
The right of way is the land set aside for use
as a highway corridor.
Rights of way are purchased prior to the
construction of a new road, and usually
enough extra land is purchased.
Sometimes, rights of way are left vacant after
the initial roadway facility is constructed to
allow for future highway expansion.

Right of Way
Requirements of area for right of way
are as follows:
For 2 lane road = 150 ft width of area
For 4 lane road = 250 ft width of area
For 8 lane road = 300 ft width of area

Traveled Way or Carriage Way

The portion of the roadway provided for
the movement of vehicles, exclusive of
Number of lanes on a traveled way are
decided on the basis of expected traffic
volumes and appropriate level of
service required for the facility.

Traveled Way or Carriage Way

Lane width strongly influences traffic
safety and comfort
Lane width ranges from 2.7-3.6 m
with 3.6 m lane predominant on hightype highways
Two-lane two-way highways with the
3.6 m lane provide safe clearance
between large commercial vehicles

Dual Carriage Way

When traffic volumes are quite heavy,
carriageway may be divided into two
parts by providing a median strip and
each portion of the carriage way is
reserved for traffic moving in opposite

Road Way
The portion of a highway provided for
vehicular use.
It includes both carriageway and

Formation Width
It is the sum of widths of carriage way,
shoulders and median strips if provided.
In case of embankments, it is measured
as the top width.
In case of cutting, it is the bottom width
of the cutting from which side drains are

Shoulders are the strips provided on both
sides of the carriage way.

Functions of shoulders
accommodation of stopped vehicles
(disabled vehicles, bus stops)
emergency use
lateral support for the pavement
space for roadside facilities
space for bicycles and pedestrians
driving comfort (freedom from strain)
improvement in sight distance
improvement in capacity

Width of shoulders
Low-type roads -- minimum 0.6 m,
recommended 1.8-2.4 m
Shoulder provided for bicycles -- minimum
1.2 m wide
High-type roads -- minimum 3.0 m,
recommended 3.6 m
Shoulders should be continuous.
Shoulders on bridges should have the
same width as on the approach sections.

Median or Traffic Separators

It is the physical or painted separation
provided on divided highways between
two adjacent roadways.
Medians can also be used to isolate
slow and fast moving traffic in the same
Width of medians ranges from
1.2 to 24 m.


Function of medians
separate opposing traffic
recovery area for out-of-control
stopping area
storage of right-turning and U-turning
minimize headlight glare
provision for future lanes

It is the dividing line between carriageway
and footpath.

Functions of Kerbs

drainage control
roadway edge delineation
right-of-way reduction
delineation of pedestrian walkways
reduction in maintenance operation
Assistance in roadside development

Types of Kerbs

Class I Kerb: Height 7-9 cms

Class II Kerb: Height 15-20 cms
Barrier: 23-45 cms
Submerged: provide lateral stability

Foot Path or side Walk

Foot paths are provided in Urban
These are raised strips constructed
along both the edges of roads.
Their minimum recommended width
is 1.3 m.

Foot Path or side Walk

Foot Path or side Walk

Bicycle and Parking lane

Bicycle lane is a portion of the
roadway designated by striping,
signing, and/or pavement markings
for preferential or exclusive use by
bicycles and/or other non-motorized
Parking lane is an additional lane
provided on Urban roads and streets
for on-street parking.

Bicycle and Parking lane

Minimum Width Requirements

Bicycle and Parking lane

Traffic Barriers

A longitudinal barrier, including bridge rail,

or an impact attenuator used to
Redirect vehicles from hazards located
within an established Design Clear Zone
To prevent median crossovers
To prevent errant vehicles from going over
the side of a bridge structure
To protect workers (occasionally)
To protect pedestrians, or bicyclists from
vehicular traffic

Traffic Barriers

Traffic Barriers

Drainage Channels and

Side slopes
Drainage channels and side slopes are
provided along the length of road for storm
water drainage etc.

Drainage Channels and

Side slopes
Drainage channels should:
have adequate capacity for the design
minimize damage to the highway caused
by unusual storm water,
minimize risk for motorists,
be resistant to the high speed water flows
where expected,
prevent sedimentation of the particles
carried by water.

Drainage Channels and

Side slopes
Side slopes should
insure the stability of the roadway
provide opportunity for recovery of an outof-control vehicle

Part 2
Highway Drainage
Transportation Engineering - I

Highway Drainage
A means by which surface water is
removed from pavement and ROW
Redirects water into appropriately
designed channels
Eventually discharges into natural
water systems

Inadequate Drainage
Damage to highway structures
Loss of capacity
Visibility problems with spray and
Safety problems, reduced friction and

Highway Drainage
Transverse slopes
Removes water from pavement surface
Facilitated by cross-section elements
(cross-slope, shoulder slope)

Longitudinal slopes
Minimum gradient to maintain adequate
slope in longitudinal channels

Longitudinal channels
Ditches along side of road to collect
surface water after run-off

Transverse slope

Longitudinal slope

Longitudinal channel

Drainage System
Three phases
1. To Estimate the quantity of water to
reach the system
2. Hydraulic design of system elements
3. Comparison of different materials to
serve the purpose

Steep slopes provide good hydraulic

capacity and lower ROW costs, but
reduces safety and increases
erosion and maintenance costs

Hydrologic Analysis
Q = CIA (english) or Q = 0.0028CIA (metric)
Q = runoff (ft3/sec) or (m3/sec)
C = coefficient representing ratio or runoff to
I = intensity of rainfall (in/hour or mm/hour)
A = drainage area (acres or hectares)

Transverse Slope
Undivided traveled ways (two- and multilane)
on tangents and flat curves have a crown in the
middle and slope downward toward both edges
(camber). The downward cross slope may be a
plane or rounded section (parabolic), or a
combination of the two.
One-way traveled ways on divided highways
may be crowned separately or may have a
unidirectional cross slope/cross fall.

Transverse Slope

Transverse Slope

Transverse Slope

Crowns vs. Unidirectional Slopes

Type of




rapid drainage during

difference between low
and high points is minimal

inlets and underground

drainage (drainage towards
the median)
difficult design of at-grade
intersection elevation
use of such sections
should be limited to regions
with high rainfall

cross slopes

more comfortable for

drivers changing lanes
drainage away from the
median saves inlets and
simplifies treatment of

drainage is slower
difference between low and
high points of the cross
section is larger

Cross Slopes on Tangents

Contradictory design controls
A steep lateral slope reduces water ponding and the width of the
water flow along the curb.
A flat lateral slope reduces vehicles' drift towards the low edge.
Recommended design controls
Lateral drift of vehicles at high speed is barely perceptible on
cross slopes up to 2%. The slope of 1.5-2.0% is acceptable on
high-speed highways. In the areas of intense rainfall a
maximum cross slope is 2.5%.
Crown section
Change in the cross slope of 3-4% causes swaying of high body
vehicles. Rounded crowns reduce discomfort.

Curbed Highways
The minimum slop values of 1.5-2 % in areas with
intense rainfalls will cause wide sheet of water on
the curbed traveled way.
Possible improvements:
parabolic cross section with increasing cross slope
towards the outer edges,
gutter along the curb with the cross slope larger
than on the traveled way,
on multilane traveled way, cross slope broken
along traffic lane edges, increasing from the
minimum value on the innermost lane up to the
maximum value on the outermost lane. This
solution is used on uncurbed sections as well.

Drainage Channels and

Design considerations of highway drainage
good appearance
control of pollutants
economy in maintenance
This can be achieved by applying
flat side slopes
wide drainage channels

Drainage Channels
Types of Drainage Channels


















Drainage Channels
Drainage channels should:
have adequate capacity for the design
minimize damage to the highway caused
by unusual storm water,
minimize risk for motorists,
be resistant to the high speed water flows
where expected,
prevent sedimentation of the particles
carried by water.

Side slopes

Side slopes should:

insure the stability of the roadway
provide opportunity for recovery of an out-of-control vehicle

Roadside Channels

Steep sides improve hydraulic efficiency and reduce right of way

Flatter sides improve slope stability and traffic safety, reduce
maintenance costs
Side slopes 1:4 or flatter provides a good chance of recovery for
errant vehicles and relax drivers' tension (roadside channel is
visible to drivers)
Side slopes of 1:5 or 1:6 are recommended in the flat areas
Intercepting channels have a flat cross section form by a dike
made with borrow material
Median drainage channels are shallow depressed areas with
Flumes are open channels or pipes used to connect intercepting
channels or shoulder curbs with roadside channels
Channel lining prevents channels erosion caused by fast stream
of water.
Examples: grass (where possible), concrete, stone etc.

Side slopes
Safety consideration
Rounded hinge point reduces the chance of an errant vehicle
becoming airborne
Fore slopes 1:6 or flatter can be negotiated by errant vehicles
Fore slopes 1:3 with liberal rounding provide a good chance for
Slopes steeper than 1:3 can be used only where justified by
local conditions. The use of roadside barriers should be
Maintenance consideration
Flat and well-rounded side slopes simplify establishment of turf
and its maintenance
Slopes 1:3 or flatter enable the use of motorized equipment

Side slopes
Other rules
Flat, well-rounded side slopes create a streamlined
cross section. Advantages for the streamlined
cross sections are:
natural, pleasant appearance,
improved traffic safety,
snow drift prevented,
easy maintenance.
Retaining walls should be considered where slopes
would be steeper than 1:2.
Standard slope for rock cuts is 2:1. In good-quality
rock, slopes ranges from 6:1.