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Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey


Discover the art of road development from road patterns to meticulous highway planning and survey techniques in this informative blog post


Transportation development has been done in three basic media:

  1. Land
  2. Water
  3. Air

Major Modes of Transportation:

  1. Roadways
  2. Railways
  3. Waterways
  4. Airways
  • Roads and railways are the two ways that has been developed on land for transportation. Similarly, waterways and airways have been developed for water and air media, respectively.
  • The road or the highway includes the modern highway system, and it also includes the urban arterials and city streets, feeder roads and village roads, catering for a wide range of road vehicles and pedestrians.
  • In the past, the deficiency of road developments has contributed to the setback in the growth of country's agricultural, the industrial and commercial sectors.
  • Road development in India started receiving marginal attention only after the initiation of the Nagpur Road Plan in the year 1943.
  • Recognising the importance of developing the rural road network, an ambitious rural road development programme, titled 'Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana' or 'PMGSY' has been started in India in the year 2001.

Highway engineering

  1. The branch of transportation engineer-ing, which deals with the planning, de-sign, construction, and maintenance of road and roadway facilities to cater to the needs of road traffic are covered under road engineering or highway engineering.
  2. The branch of engineering which deals with the development and construction of railway tracks, and the movement of trains with all the planning and designs is termed as the railway engineering.
  3. The planning, design, construction and maintenance of airports and other facilities for the operation of aircraft is termed airport engineering.
  4. The development of terminal facilities for ships and boats, their harbouring, repair, etc., are covered under harbour engineering.
    Road: Any hard surface which can carry a load of moving vehicles is called road.

History of development

Type of roads development:

  1. Roman Roads
  2. Tresaguet
  3. Metcalf
  4. Telford
  5. Macadam

Roman Roads

a) These roads were built straight without any consideration of gradients.
b) The soft soil was excavated and removed till the hard stratum was reached.
c) Total thickness was about 0.75 to 1.2 m, without any consideration of wheel loads.

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Roman Roads

Tresaguet construction (France; 1764 AD):

a) The main feature of this proposal is to constrain the thickness of road construction up to 30 cm.
b) Large foundation stones were laid on edges and top surface was prepared by small stones to a thickness of about 5 cm.
c) To drain out the surface water to side drains, shoulders were provided in cross slope.

Metcalf method:

a) Metcalf followed the recommendation of Robert Philips

b) He contributed for the construction of 290 km of road in England.
c) It was known that Metcalf was blind and that is why his complete work was not recorded due to his disability.

Telford method:

a) 9 metres wide a level sub-grade was prepared.
b) 17 to 22 cm thick large foundation stones were laid with large face down.
c) The gap between foundation stones were filled using smaller stones.
d) The central portion of about 5.5 m width was covered with two layers of angular broken stones.

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Telford Construction

Macadam construction:

  • a) John Macadam (1756 - 1836) suggested that heavy foundation stones are not at all necessary.
  • b) He provided the following steps:
    • i) A cross slope of 1:36 is provided to subgrade with the width of 9 metres.
    • ii) A thickness of 10 cm is prepared by compacting with the use of the strong variety of broken stones (size 5 cm).
    • iii) Another layer with a thickness of 10 cm is prepared by compacting with the use of the strong variety broken stones (size 3.75 cm).
    • iv) A layer of thickness 5 cm is prepared with the stone size 2 cm at the top, also having cross slope 1:36.
Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Macadam Construction


Which one of the following is the chronological sequence in the regard to road construction/design/development?

(A) Telford, Tresaguet, CBR, Macadam
(B) Tresaguet, Telford, Macadam, CBR
(C) Macadam, CBR, Tresaguet, Telford
(D) Tresaguet, Macadam, Telford, CBR

Solutions : (B)

Highway Planning in India

Jayakar committee:

  • In 1927 government appointed a road development committee headed by Mr M.R.

Following are the recommendations:

  1. Road development in the country should be considered as a national interest as this has become beyond the capacity of provisional Government and local bodies.
    Result: Fund participation of road development.
  2. An extra tax should be levied as petrol and diesel from the road users to develop a road development fund called 'Central Road Fund'.
    Result: Central Road Fund established in 1929.
  3. A semi-official technical body should be formed to pool technical knowledge from various parts of the country and to act as an advisory body on various aspects of road.
    Result: Indian Road Congress (IRC) in 1934.
  4. A research organization should be established to carry out research and development work pertaining to roads and to be available for consultations.
    Result: Central Road Research
    Institute (CRRI) in 1950.

Jayakar committee gave more stress on long-term planning, which results in various 20 years of road plans.

three twenty years road plans:

Following are the three twenty years road plans:

  1. Nagpur Plan (1st twenty years road plan)
  2. Mumbai Plan (2nd twenty years road plan)
  3. Lucknow Plan (3rd twenty years road plan)
Road Length5,32,700 km10,57,330 km
Density16km/100 km232 km/100 km282 km/100 km2
PatternsStar and grid-Rectangular and block
Express Highway-1600 km added later on2000 km
Completed On19611981
Classification1. National Highway (NH)
2. State Highway (SH)
3. Major District Roads (MDR)
4. Village Roads (VR)
1. Primary Roads (EH+NH)
2. Secondary Roads (SH+MDR)
3. Rural Roads (ODR+VR)
Comparison between twenty years road plans:


Length of national highway s is ap-prox. 96000 km, which is approximately 2% of total road length and carries 40% of total traffic.

Length of road according to 3rd twenty years road plan:

1) Total Length of road (km)

= 4.74 * Number of town and villages.

2) Length of NH (km)

= Area (in km2 )/50\ (km2 ).

3) Length of State Highway (km)

= Area/25 (km2 ) or

= 62.5 * Number of town with population above 5000 - length of NH.

4) Length of major district road (km)

= Area / 12.5 (km2)

= 90 * Number of towns with population above 5000.

Points to Remember

  • Jayakar Committee (1927)
  • Central Road Fund (1929)
  • Indian Road Congress (IRC) (1934)
  • Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) (1950)
  • Motor Vehicle Act (1936)
  • National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) (1995)
  • Highway Research Board (1973)
  • National Transport Policy Committee (1978)
  • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) (2000)

Imporatant Questions

The Indian Road Congress (IRC) was found in the year: ( SSC JE 2020)
(A) 1927
(B) 1950
(C) 1934
(D) 1982

Solution: (C)
Under the Jayakar committee different recommendations were made and one of which is "A Semi-Official technical body should be formed to pool technical know-how from various parts of the country and to act as an advisory body on various aspects of the road".
This resulted in the formation of the Indian Road Congress (IRC) in 1934.

Road Patterns

rectangular and block patterns:

(CBA = Central Business Areas)

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Rectangular and Block Pattern

a) The whole area is divided into rectangular blocks and the intersection of roads is at a right angle.
b) This pattern is generally adopted for the city roads.
c) In this pattern the road could get blocked because the vehicle faces each other at intersections.

Star and Radial patterns:

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Radial Block Pattern

a) The whole area is divided into a network of roads radiating outwards from the central business area.
b) This intersection is smoother than the rectangular and block pattern, and face-to-face collision of the vehicle can be avoided.

Star and Circular patterns:

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Star and Circular Pattern

a) In this pattern, the radial roads are the main roads that radiates out-wards, and it also connects with the ring roads, which again radiates outwards.
b) The traffic flow is better in this pattern and also reduces the consumption of fuel.

Star and Grid patterns:

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Star and Grid Pattern

a) This pattern helps to improve the traffic flow in both directions and also provides higher safety.
b) It helps in reducing the cut-through traffic.

Hexagonal patterns:

Road Development and Road Patterns and Highway Planning and Survey
Hexagonal Pattern

Points to Remember

  • The rectangular and block patterns has been adopted in the city roads of Chandigarh.
  • The radial and circular road pattern has been adopted for Connaught Place in New Delhi.
  • The star and grid pattern has been adopted in the Nagpur road plan.

Imporatant Questions

Nagpur road plan is based on: [GATE 1994]

(A) Block pattern
(B) Star and grid pattern
(C) Star and circular pattern
(D) Hexagonal pattern

Solution (B)

Planning survey

1) Fact-finding studies or planning survey-the study/studies done for the collection of all the factual data required for the planning of highway.
2) Planning based on factual data and analysis may be considered scientific and sound.
3) It consists of the following studies:

  • Economic Studies
  • Financial Studies
  • Traffic or Roads Studies
  • Engineering Studies

Engineering Studies

  • Highway alignment
  • Engineering survey for alignment

Engineering survey for alignment:

Factors controlling alignment:

Obligatory points

  • a) These are the points called control points and they are important as they govern the highway alignments.
  • b) These control points are divided in two parts:
    • i) Point through which the alignment should pass (bridge site, intermediate town, a mountain pass or a quarry)
    • ii) Point through which the alignment should not pass (religious places, lake, Valley, marshy land, costly structures etc.)


  • a) Traffic is one of the most important point for consideration of the alignment of highway.
  • b) Desired line, traffic flow pattern & future trends etc. All these studies should be done for new alignment.

Geometric Design

  • a) Factors like, minimum sight dis-tance, radius of curve, horizontal and vertical curve, gradients, visi-bility, over taking distance, etc. are considered in detail for designing.
  • b) Design speed, lateral friction, super elevation are the factors which also come in geometric design for the highway alignment.

Economical' Economy

  • a) The final alignment based on the factors should also be economical.
  • b) Initial cost, final cost, maintenance cost, construction cost; all these should be estimated with in most economical way possible.

Other consideration

  • a) Drainage considerations, strategic consideration, hydrological factors, political considerations and monotony are the factors which also affects the alignment of highway.

Before a highway alignment is finalised engineering survey is to be carried out in following stages:

Map study:

a) Various alignments are drawn on contour maps using a cadastral and topographical map.
b) Alignment should be crossing minimum number of obstructions and maximum utilisation area.

Reconnaissance survey:

a) It is done by visiting the site location to identify those features which are not available on the map.

Preliminary survey:

The objectives of the preliminary survey are:

a) To study all the alternate alignments proposed and finalise the best-suit-ed alignment after the reconnaissance survey.

b) To finalise the alignment after estimating the quantity of earthwork and working out the cost of alternate proposals.
The procedure of preliminary survey is given in the following steps:

  • i) Primary traverse
  • ii) Topographical features
  • iii) Levelling work
  • iv) Drainage studies and hydrological data
  • v) Soil survey
  • VI) Material survey
  • vii) Traffic survey
  • viii) Determination of final centre line

Detailed survey:

It consists following data:

  • a) Planning
  • b) Designing
  • c) Methodology
  • d) Material estimation
  • e) Cost estimation etc., are done and a detail project (DPR) is pre-paired.

Preparation of detailed project report (DPR):

The data collected during the different surveys are analysed and the design for the highway project is prepared. The DPR is prepared submitted consisting of the following three parts:

  1. Report
  2. Estimate
  3. Drawing


The report is generally written under the following board head:

  • a) Executive summary
  • b) Background
  • c) General detail of the project
  • d) Socio-economic project
  • e) Demographic profile
  • f)Traffic surveys and traffic forecast; safety audits
  • g) Engineering survey and investigation Design standards and specification adopted
  • h) Design standard and specification adopted.
  • i) Pavement engineering study and design details
  • j) Drainage studies assessments and design structure
  • k) Environment and social considerations and rehabilitation resettlement

Cost estimation:

General and detailed cost estimation
a) Abstract of cost
b) Estimate of quantities
c) Analysis of rates
d) Quarry/ Materials source charts


a) Location plan cum-site map
b) Land acquisition plan
c) Drawings showing the location of material sources
d) Plan and longitudinal section
e) Typical cross-section
f) Detailed cross-section
g) Drawings for cross drainage structures
h) Road junction drawings, etc.

Saturation sysytem:

This system is used to find the optimum road length for the area, based on the concept of obtaining maximum utility per unit length of road. The system is also called the maximum utility system.

The factors are taken into consideration:

  1. Population served by road network
  2. Productivity served by the network
    a) Agriculture products
    b) Industrial productivity

Steps/ Rules to find utility factor:

  1. Provide utility factor of 0.25 to lowest population range and increase it by multiplying with 2 for next population range
    Ex. 0.25-0.5-1-2
  2. Provide utility factor of 1 to agriculture, and industrial products according to weightage (if not given consider 1and10).
  3. If only production is mentioned, consider factor = 1.

important question

Q) Three new roads P,Q and R are planned in a district. The data for these roads are given in the table:

Roads (km)Length (km)No. of Villages with population
Less than 20002000-5000More than 5000

Based on the principle of maximum utility, the order of priority for three roads should be:

A) P,Q,R

B) Q,R,P

C) R,P,Q

D) R,Q,P

Solution : (D)

Q) Briefly describe planning surveys for highways. How are these used and interpreted? { ESE Mains 2018}

S.NoPlanning SurveysDescriptions
1Economic StudiesStudy of population, its distribution and classification. Trend of population growth.
Listing of agricultural and industrial development and their future trends Per capita income and growth, banking etc.
2Financial StudiesSource of income, revenue from taxation on road transport. Living standard.
Resources at local level, toll taxes, vehicle registration and fines.
3Traffic or Roads Use StudiesTraffic volume in vehicle per day, annual average daily traffic, peak and design hourly traffic volume Origin and destination study. Traffic flow pattern. Mass transportation facilities. Accidents, their cost analysis and causes. Growth of vehicular traffic, passenger trips and good movement.
4Engineering StudiesTopographical survey, soil survey. Location and classification of existing roads. Road life studies Particular problems in drainage, construction and maintenance of roads.

  • All the information is collected and presented in the form of plans.
  • Generally, four drawings are prepared as follows:

Plan 1: General area plan showing all existing details, i.e., topography, existing road networks, drainage structure, rivers, canals, town and village population, agriculture etc.
Plan 2: The plan includes the distribution of population groups in accordance with the categories made in the appropriate plan.
Plan 3: This plan shows the locations of places with their respective quantities of productivity.
Plan 4: This plan shows the existing road network with traffic flows and desire lines obtained from origin and Destination studies of traffic.

Interpretation of planning survey:

The data collected could be interpreted and used for the following important purposes:

  1. To arrive at the road network, out of the several alternate possible systems, which has the maximum utility.
  2. To fix up the priority of the construction projects, so as to phase the road development plan of an area in different periods of time such as five-year plans and annual plans.
  3. To assess the actual road used by studying the traffic flow pattern. This data may therefore show areas of congestion that need immediate relief.
  4. Based on the traffic type and intensity and the performance of the existing types of pavement and cross drainage structures, a new structure may be designed using the data and past experiences.
  5. Comparison of the area may be obtained on the basis of their economic activities. This information may therefore suggest the areas of immediate need for road network.
  6. On a statistical basis, the data obtained in fact-finding survey may be analysed for future trends in the development of an area.

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  • Road development history:
    Roman roads, Tresaguet method of construction, Metcalf, Telford, Macadam construction.
  • Jayakar committee in 1927
    • Road development in the country should be considered as a national interest.
    • An extra tax should be levied as petrol and diesel from the road users to develop a road development fund.
    • To establish a semi-official, technical institution of pool technical knowledge, sharing of ideas to act as an advisory body.
    • To create a national level institution to carry out research, development works, and consultation.
  • Three twenty years road plan:
    • First: Nagpur road plan (1943-1963)
    • Second: Bombay road plan (1961-1981)
    • Third: Lucknow (1981-2001)
  • Road patterns:
    • Rectangular and block
    • Star and radial
    • Star and circular
    • Star and grid
    • Hexagonal

important keywords

  1. History of road development
  2. Highway planning in India
  3. Road patterns
  4. Planning Survey

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