Civil engineering road construction

31 October 2014

Road construction process and a civil engineers role.

As Africa continues to develop, the need for advanced infrastructure is imperative. So what is involved with civil engineering road construction? In order for networks to provide suitable access and mature with the surroundings, civil engineers must design and plan for current and future traffic volumes as well as urban development. Other considerations include the effects this can have on the local environment such as noise, air and water pollution. Safety is also a main factor during this stage with calculation for human reaction time to breaking, steering, reading road signs and oncoming traffic.

Factors to be addressed by highway civil engineers are:

  • Design speed (speed limit of road)
  • Design traffic volume (estimated volume of traffic daily)
  • Number of lanes
  • Level of service
  • Sight distance (How far ahead the driver can see)
  • Alignment, super-elevation and grades (route of road, banks and slopes)
  • Lane width
  • Horizontal and vertical clearance

Drainage is also an extremely important aspect in highway design and is crucial to its success. All drainage is site specific and must be designed with a slop or crown to direct run-off water to the shoulder of the road. Culvert design is of high importance to avoid highway structure failure during the wet season. You can learn top tips on culverts here.

Engineers use Computer Aided Design systems (CAD’s) to create the complex infrastructures. The most popular software suites for this are Cadalyst and Autodesk.

CAD is mainly used for detailed engineering of 3D models and/or 2D drawings of physical components, but it is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies to definition of manufacturing methods of components

Once the design has been approved a project manager from the civil engineering firm will work with the construction firm until the build is complete.

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