A Highway is defined as a main road or thoroughfare, such as a street, boulevard, or parkway, available to the public for use for travel or transportation. Highway Engineering is a branch of civil engineering dealing with the planning, location, design, construction, and maintenance of highways and with the regulations and control devices employed in highway traffic operations.
Highway authorities in the UK, such as Secretary of State for Transport via the Department of Transport and the relevant offices for Scotland and Wales exercise powers under highway and traffic legislation and are often the ones to appoint Consulting Engineers to undertake various studies, design and supervision of construction for new works and improvement. In England, Consulting Engineers have also been appointed to manage maintenance.
Policy for roads in England lists prime objectives of building roads:
1.Reduction of transport costs to assist with economic growth.
2. Removal of through traffic from unsuitable roads to improve environment.
3. Enhancement of road safety.
Generally a Scheme Identification Study will be conducted first. As Consulting Engineers, we would usually get involved at the Technical Appraisal Production Stage. The main purpose of such a report would be to modify and examine the Scheme Identification Study. The Technical Appraisal Report we produce will include the study of existing conditions, planning factors, description of alternative schemes, traffic analysis, economic assessment, appraisal framework and programme. Finally we would draw our conclusions and make recommendations of the preferred solution. Detailed cost estimations will also be provided.
After the completion of the report, all sorts of public consultations will need to take place to appraise the viable schemes. Following this, a preliminary design is produced, usually based on an aerial survey. After successful public inquiry and detailed design at a scale of 1/500- or 1/1000 is produced. Topographical and soil surveys will take place. Finalised route location and types of structures are proposed.