Geometric Design

By
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
Horizontal Alignment
• Objective:
– Geometry of directional transition to ensure:
• Safety
• Comfort
• Primary challenge
– Transition between two directions
– Horizontal curves
• Fundamentals
– Circular curves
– Superelevation
Δ
Horizontal Alignment
Components of Highway Design
Plan View
Profile View
Horizontal Alignment
Vertical Alignment
Horizontal Alignment
Tangents Curves
Tangents & Curves
Tangent
Curve
Tangent to
Circular Curve
Tangent to
Spiral Curve to
Circular Curve
Layout of a Simple Horizontal Curve
R = Radius of Circular Curve
BC = Beginning of Curve
(or PC = Point of Curvature)
EC = End of Curve
(or PT = Point of Tangency)
PI = Point of Intersection
T = Tangent Length
(T = PI – BC = EC - PI)
L = Length of Curvature
(L = EC – BC)
M = Middle Ordinate
E = External Distance
C = Chord Length
Δ = Deflection Angle

Properties of Circular Curves
Degree of Curvature
• Traditionally, the “steepness” of the curvature is defined by either the
radius (R) or the degree of curvature (D)
• In highway work we use the ARC definition
• Degree of curvature = angle subtended by an arc of length 100 feet

Degree of Curvature
Equation for D
Degree of curvature = angle subtended by an arc of length 100 feet

By simple ratio: D/360 = 100/2*Pi*R

Therefore

R = 5730 / D

(Degree of curvature is not used with metric units
because D is defined in terms of feet.)

Length of Curve

By simple ratio: D/ Δ = ?

D/ Δ = 100/L

L = 100 Δ / D

Therefore

L = 100 Δ / D
Or (from R = 5730 / D, substitute for D = 5730/R)

L = Δ R / 57.30

(D is not Δ .)

Horizontal Curve Fundamentals
R
T
PC
PT
PI
M
E
R
Δ
Δ/2 Δ/2
Δ/2
R R
D
t
t 000 , 18
180
100
=
|
.
|

\
|
=
2
tan
A
= R T
D
R L
A
= A =
100
180
t
L
Horizontal Curve Fundamentals
|
|
.
|

\
|
÷
A
= 1
2 cos
1
R E
|
.
|

\
|
A
÷ =
2
cos 1 R M
R
T
PC
PT
PI
M
E
R
Δ
Δ/2 Δ/2
Δ/2
L
Example 1
A horizontal curve is designed with a 1500 ft.
radius. The tangent length is 400 ft. and the PT
station is 20+00. What are the PI and PT
stations?
Centripetal or Centrifugal?
• As a vehicle moves in a circular path
– Centripetal acceleration acts on the vehicle in the direction of
the center of the curve
• The acceleration is sustained by
– Component of the vehicle’s weight related to the roadway
superelevation
– Side friction developed between the vehicle’s tires and the
pavement surface
– Or a combination of the two

Centrifugal Force
• Imaginary force that drivers believe is pushing
them outward while maneuvering a curve
• In fact, the force they feel is the vehicle being
accelerated inward towards the center of the
curve
Centripetal Acceleration
• Is counter-balanced by two factors:
– Superelevation
– Side Friction Factor
• Research has been conducted (dated) that has
established limiting values for superelevation rate (e
max) and side friction demand (f max)
• Applying the limiting values results in the minimum curve
Superelevation
• Limits of the rate superelevation are related to
– Climate
• Ice and snow can slow vehicles. Should not create a situation
where these vehicles slide into the center of the curve when
traveling slowly or standing still.
– Constructability (cost)
– Frequency of slow moving vehicles

Superelevation
• Too much super
– When traveling slowly, must steer up the slope or against
the horizontal curve to maintain proper path
– Undesirable to have such situations when slow traveling
traffic can occur often (urban areas with congestion)
– Considerations for SUV traffic, high center of gravity, can
cause roll-overs on such designs
Superelevation
cp f p
F F W = +
o o o o cos sin cos sin
2 2
v v
s
gR
WV
gR
WV
W f W =
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +
α
F
c
W 1 ft
e

R
v

Superelevation
o o o o cos sin cos sin
2 2
v v
s
gR
WV
gR
WV
W f W =
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +
( ) o o tan 1 tan
2
s
v
s
f
gR
V
f ÷ = +
( ) e f
gR
V
f e
s
v
s
÷ = + 1
2
( ) e f g
V
R
s
v
+
=
2
Side Friction Factor
• The vehicle’s need for side friction to maintain
path on curve
• Upper limit of side friction is the point at which a
tire would begin to skid, point of impending skid
• We design for safety, so f values substantially less
than this
Side Friction Factor
• How do we choose maximum side friction factors
for use in design?
• We measure the level of centripetal or lateral
acceleration that causes drivers to react
instinctively to choose a lower speed.
• We set this as the maximum side friction factor.
Maximum Rates of Superelevation
• Controlled by four factors:
– Climate conditions (snow/ice regions)
– Terrain conditions (flat, rolling, mountainous)
– Type of area (rural, urban, suburban)
– Frequency of very slow-moving vehicles
• Conclusion: no universal e
max
can be set
• However, for similar areas, a consistent maximum
superelevation should be selected
Recommended Practice
• 12 percent superelevation should not be
exceeded
• 4 or 6 percent superelevation is applicable for
urban design with little constraints
• Superelevation may be omitted on low-speed
urban streets where severe constraints exist
• Controls design speed
• Can be determined from the max
superelevation and the max side friction factor
• Can be calculated from equation 3.34 or
determined from Table 3.5
EX: 70 mph design speed; e = 8%; f
s
= 0.10,
Determine the minimum radius of curve
(measured to the traveled path).

Example Continued
f t R
R
e
f g
V
R
v
v
s
v
40 . 1819
) 08 . 0 10 . 0 ( 2 . 32
) 467 . 1 70 (
100
2
2
=
+
×
=
|
.
|

\
|
+
=