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This resource provides an overview of the design standards an engineer should use for road development and improvement schemes.
This information is primarily based upon highway engineering practice in England, but there are lessons and resources used in this overview, which could be applied to the rest of the UK and internationally
There are many factors, which an engineer must consider when designing a new highway. Good and effective highway design is based upon an accurate knowledge of the properties of the materials used and the design loadings, using well-researched engineering principles and developed and validated computer programs. It must also take account of the interaction with the existing ground and the environment.
ICE’s Manual of Highway Design & Management (2011) provide descriptions of and notes for guidance to the referenced established design procedures and methods used in the UK and in some cases provide enough information for straightforward designs to be produced for that topic.
Chapters 31-34 of this ICE Manual include essential guidance on:
All highway design for the Highways England must be carried out by consultants with BS EN ISO9001: Quality Management Systems. Requirements (British Standards Institution, 2008) third-party certification satisfying the requirements of their guidance document GD 02/08 Quality management systems for highway design published in Design manual for roads and bridges (DMRB). This explains how the general quality assessment principles are relevant to highway design, the management responsibility and which quality plans and records should be kept. It also explains the competency requirements for the design team in terms of skills, knowledge and ability to understand requirements.
A design engineer should be familiar with the contents of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) and the Manual of contract documents for Highway Work.
The Specification for Highway Works is published as Volume 1 of the Manual of Contract Documents for Highway Works and contains the requirements and approvals procedures for work, goods or materials used in the construction, improvement or maintenance of the Trunk Road network. This an essential reference tool for agents, authorities, consultants and organisations who are engaged in the design, assessment, maintenance and management of road and bridge design.
In preparing a concept design for a major development, the Highway Engineer would address the practicalities of cost effective access for all modes of travel, assessment of the suitability of the existing infrastructure, the parking and servicing arrangements and the detailed design of on and off-site civil engineering works.
Feasibility studies involve both a desktop and a site visit, address the key fundamentals of access, and access constraints. Investigations will also take place as to the current lawful use of the site and its present potential for generating traffic.
The purpose of the preliminary design is to enable a decision to be taken on where the road should be located within the preferred route envelope. This design will include topographical, environmental and geographical surveys.
The purpose of the final design is to:
Highway design is an a critical component in the creation of an effective road network, and civil engineers are vital to delivering the essential infrastructure which connects our towns and cities.
The intention of this information is to give a general overview of Highway Design and direct engineers to further guidance and resources to aide them in preparing highway design documents. ICE’s Manual of Highway Design & Management (2011) is an excellent resource for engineers of all levels, and is a highly recommended resource.
Equally useful is ICE’s Principles of Pavement Engineering (2014) and for the undergraduate engineer, Highways: the location, design, construction and maintenance of road pavements (2015) is an extremely useful reference tool.
ICE Training provides a range of courses to help you improve your understanding and knowledge of highways engineering. Courses include:
View more training from ICE Training
Highways England produces standards and documentation relating to the design, construction and maintenance of highways. Documents are available free online, including:
Further information related to standards for highways is also available on the Standards for Highways online resource webpage.