Transportation Engineering - Civil Engineering

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A Brief about
  Transportation engineering is the branch of civil engineering which deals with the planning, functional design, operation and maintenance of facilities of any mode of transportation so as to provide safe, economical, efficient, rapid and comfortable movement of people and goods by enhancing the user experience.
  It includes subjects like highway engineering, railway engineering, airport engineering, port and harbor engineering.
  In highway engineering, the roads are built on the embankments so that there is no drainage problem. It also ensures uncontrolled access to vehicles on the highways thereby eliminating the risk of people crossing the roads by violating the rules.
  Mobility is the most important need of human beings and road transport is the first step to utilize other means of transport. Well-designed roads with proper geometric design increase the efficiency of road transport and decreases the risk of accidents.
  Highway engineering includes topics like history of road transport, geometric design, pavement design, traffic engineering, design of intersections, signaling and cycle length of traffic lights, motorist and user safety, study of human and vehicular characteristics on roads etc.
  Roads are being built from ages but the idea is to make the road construction methodology simple and efficient. Earlier big stones were used as one of the pavement layer in roads but today a proper gradation is kept in mind to ensure proper packing and high strength. Also large stones and boulders were difficult to carry thus increases the simplicity in the methodology.
  Before making a road, basic questions like why are we making a road and who will use the road comes in mind? These are indeed very important questions which should be answered by studying the types of vehicle which will move on road, their dimensions, maximum speed etc. Along with this human tendency to react should also be considered in the design with regard to safety. Thus a good highway engineer needs to understand these aspects of transportation.
  Roads are not straight paths, these include horizontal curves, vertical curves etc. As the complexity in functional design of curves increases, the risk of accidents also increases. This demands designing various features of road like sight distance etc. by utilizing the knowledge of geometric design.
  Life for which the road is required to be used is also an important factor in design. As per the intended life, we design the pavements accordingly. Bituminous roads, cement concrete roads are the most common type of pavements. These pavements differ in layers provided in each pavement, the load resisting mechanism of the pavement, number of times a vehicle can move on the road without causing any damage, type of wearing course etc. Pavements materials behave differently at different times of a day and in different seasons. Thus while designing a pavement these stresses which result due to daily and seasonal variation should also be considered in design for an effective design.
  The main aspect of any good transportation is the safety of the users. Traffic signals, regulatory and warning sign boards play an important role to alert the user and helps in controlling the human tendency of high speed driving which results in smooth flow of traffic without accidents. Signal cycle length should be designed properly by keeping all the factors in mind.
  Railway is the most popular economical mode for the transportation of goods in bulk and passengers over long distances. But railway is a controlled connected path unlike roads where geometric design should be accurate else it may lead to a tragedy. In railways, different layers are provided for efficient transfer of loads. Signaling is important to avoid accidents and automatic signaling is the best. Speed of a train depends on the efficiency of track which includes gauge type, geometric design, rails etc.
  Air transport is the fastest means of transport but it’s expensive. Airport engineering includes the design of runways, taxiways etc. Here also geometric design features, signaling are very important.
  Port and harbor engineering deals with the study of tides, its impact the port besides studying size of ship, port layout etc. Ports help in transporting a huge volume of loads between nations, continents by sea. It’s the most important mode of transportation for international trade.
  Transportation is the lifeline of any nation’s economy. With the increased degradation of environment by using fossil fuels in the vehicles, it’s imperative on us to design vehicles compatible with eco-friendly fuels. This opens a vast opportunity of research in identifying new pavement materials.
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