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Introduction to Military Roads

civil engineering
A Military Road
The purpose of this article is to provide you with the knowledge to supervise the construction of a military road.
  • The site reconnaissance is conducted to determine if the proposed location for the road is feasible, or if an alternate route needs to be selected.
  • This should be mutually performed involving maximum number of concerned staff.

  • Terrain restrictions.
  • Location of existing roads.
  • Location and utilization of existing bridges.
  • Natural or manmade obstacles.
  • Vegetation and undergrowth.
  • Engineering effort involved for construction.
  • Existing soil conditions.
  • Location of possible borrow pits.
  • Soil Characteristics: Locate roads on terrain having the best sub grade soil conditions to decrease construction efforts and make a more stable road. 
  • Drainage: Locate roads in areas that drain well, and where the construction of drainage structures is minimized. 
  • Topography: Avoid excessive grades and steep hills. Locate roads on the side of a hill instead of going directly over it. 
  • Earthwork: Earthwork operations are the single largest work item during the construction of a road. Balancing cut and fill volumes will decrease hauling distances, and the work required to handle the material.
  • Alignments: Keep the number of curves and grades to a minimum. Avoid excessive grades which cause mobility problems.

  • Locate portions of new roads along existing roads whenever possible.
  • Locate the road on a stable soil that drains well. Avoid low lying areas where water will cause surface and subsurface drainage problems.
  • Avoid areas with high water tables. These areas will have continuing problems from water damage.
  • Locate roads along ridges and streamlines to keep the construction of drainage structures to a minimum. Keep the road well above the waterline to prevent flooding.
  • Locate roads along contour lines to prevent unnecessary earthwork operations.
  • Select locations that avoid rock work or excessive clearing and grubbing.
  • Avoid sharp curves and routes which require bridging.
  • Make your notes as detailed as possible when performing the site reconnaissance.
  • Use a rough checklist to help you with your site observations.
  • Make a rough sketch of the project area.


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