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The Institution of Civil Engineers Institute / association Website
Last edited 24 Aug 2016

Design standards for road development and improvement schemes

This resource provides an overview of the design standards an engineer should use for road development and improvement schemes. It is an ICE briefing note that originally appeared as Road development and improvement schemes: highway design standards, written by Adam Kirkup and published on 31 March 2016

This information is primarily based upon highway engineering practice in England, but there are lessons and resources used which could be applied to the rest of the UK and internationally.


[edit] Effective highway design and engineering

Good and effective highway design is based on 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 provides enough information for straightforward designs to be produced for that topic:

[edit] Highway design standards

All highway design for 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.

[edit] Specification for Highway Works

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.

[edit] Concept design and feasibility

In preparing a concept design for a major development, the highway engineer should 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 to establish the current lawful use of the site and its present potential for generating traffic.

[edit] Preliminary design

The purpose of the preliminary design is to enable a decision to be made about where the road should be located within the preferred route envelope. This design will include topographical, environmental and geographical surveys.

[edit] Final design

The purpose of the final design is to:

[edit] Closing remarks and recommended resources

Highway design is 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.

[edit] ICE Books

The intention of this information is to give a general overview of highway design and direct engineers to further guidance and resources to help 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.

[edit] ICE Training

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

[edit] External resources

Highways England produces standards and documentation relating to the design, construction and maintenance of highways, including:

Further information related to standards for highways is also available on the Standards for Highways online resource webpage.

--The Institution of Civil Engineers

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