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axis (a, b, c, & d) the corresponding vertical distances are unequal (w, x, y, & z) and inconvenient to calculate.

However, unlike a circular curve a vertical curve does not have a constant radius at all points along the curve but the most significant strength of the vertical curve is its constant rate of change. In fact, this constant rate of change is the key to the calculation of a vertical curve. This quality is expressed by the general equation of a parabola: y = ax2 In a vertical curve the offsets from a tangent to the curve always vary as the square of the distance along the tangent from the point of tangency. Vertical Curve Notation

The notation used in this course will include:

It can be expressed in 100-ft stations or in feet but is always measured along the horizontal. The entering grade is g1. Calculation Methods There are two methods for determining elevations along vertical curves that will be presented here. Grade or slope on each side of curve 2.g1 ) The rate of change is r. The beginning of the vertical curve is the point of vertical curvature. The two grades are expressed in the direction of stationing. VPT The elevation of the beginning of the vertical curve .L as the length of a vertical curve. It is found by dividing the total change in grade by the length of the vertical curve. The vertex. Elevation and station of VPC . Either method is applicable to both highway and railroad profiles. the VPC is C The distance along the vertical curve to the station for which the elevation is desired is x. where the two straight grade lines meet is the point of vertical intersection. and the exiting grade is g2 The total change in grade through the vertical curve is (g2 . The end of the vertical curve is the point of vertical tangency. It can either be calculated in terms of feet of 100-ft stations. They are: Tangent offset Method Equation of Parabola Method Information needed: 1. VPI. The elevation of the station desired is y. VPC.

VPI) The elevation of the VPT is: VPT elevation = VPI elevation + (g2) (distance VPI . find the station at which it fall and include that station in the elevation computations.VPT chord and the elevation of the PVI. .VPT) Compute the elevation of the midpoint M of the chord from the VPC to the VPT: In a symmetrical vertical curve this elevation is simply the average of the elevation of the VPC and the VPT.3. Curve length (Horizontal distance VPC VPT) Tangent Offset Method To find the elevation at the high point or low point. Elevation of the midpoint M = (VPC elevation + VPT elevation)/2 Find the elevation of the midpoint O of the vertical curve: In a symmetrical vertical curve the elevation of the midpoint O of the vertical curve is midway between the elevation of the midpoint of the VPC . Procedure: Compute the elevation of the VPI and VPT And since this is a symmetrical vertical curve The elevation of the PVI is: VPI elevation = VPC elevation + (g1) (distance VPC.

therefore the relationship is: Elevation of desired station on the vertical curve = (Elevation of desired station on the tangent . Tangent offset Y = Tangent offset U * (Distance of Desired Station from VPC)2 / (Distance of VPI from VPC)2 Calculate the elevation of the desired station on the tangent line Elevation on Desired Station on the tangent = VPI elevation+ (g1) (Distance of Desired Station from VPC) Finally. From the tangent line. It is the difference between the elevation of the VPI and the elevation of the midpoint O of the vertical curve. The vertical curve in Figure is a crest curve.Curve Midpoint elevation Find the tangent offset Y for the desired station. to find the elevation of the station the desired station on the vertical curve.tangent offset Y) For a sag curve the relationship is: Elevation of desired station on the vertical curve = (Elevation of desired station on the tangent + tangent offset Y) Equation of Parabola Method The general equation of parabola applied to vertical curves is given by y = ax2 + bx + c Where: y = Roadway elevation at distance x x = Distance from VPC . The tangent offset must be added or subtracted from the elevation of that station on the tangent. to the vertical curve at any station. In this case: Tangent offset U = VPI elevation .Elevation of the midpoint O = (VPI elevation + Chord Midpoint elevation) / 2 Find the tangent offset U from the VPI to the vertical curve. that is the straight grade line. which is the straight grade line. the tangent offsets vary with the square of the distance from the VPC or VPT.

r. Find x.g1) / 2L a=r/2 2a = (g2 . The value for the rate of change. or exiting grade (g2) and dividing that difference by the total length of the vertical curve. which is the rate of change along the curve. or entering grade (g1) from the second. which is the distance along the curve to the place for which the elevation is desired.a. r = (g2 . is found by subtracting the first. Find r. b = Coefficients that define shape c = Elevation of VPC y = ax2 + bx + c At the VPC: x=0 y=c dy / dx = 2ax + b At the VPC: Anywhere x=0 dy / dx = b = g1 d2y / dx2 = 2a a = (g2 .g1) / L .g1) / L y = r/2 x2 + g1 x + c Procedure: The objective is to find the elevation of desired station on the vertical curve illustrated Compute the elevation of the VPI and VPT.

. Sight distance = length of highway visible to the driver Stopping sight distance = the sight distance required to safely stop a vehicle traveling at design speed Passing sight distance = the sight distance required (two-lane highway) for a vehicle to execute a normal passing maneuver as related to design conditions and design speed. Insert data to the above equation and compute final curve elevation of desired point.

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