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National Rural Roads Development Agency

The District Rural Roads Plan gives guidance on the general topology of the network of rural roads required to connect all
eligible rural habitations. This will have to be translated on to the ground in the form of properly aligned road links.
The IRC: SP 20:2002, Rural Roads Manual gives detailed guidance on selection of the alignment. The following
supplementary points need to be kept in mind at the time of alignment definition:
In order to minimise/ avoid land acquisition, the alignment should follow existing cart tracks and
footpaths to the maximum extent possible, subject to considerations of geometrics and hydrology.
It is always useful to consider 2 or 3 possible route alignments and evaluate each alternative for the
construction costs to be incurred and related benefits accrued, before finalising an alignment. By
adopting such an approach, many unfavourable features can be avoided like long length covered by
problematic soils (e.g., Black Cotton soils), too many cross-drainage works, high cost bridges,
landslide susceptible slopes on hill roads etc. Similarly, the ease with which the desired geometric
design standards can be attained may vary from one alternative to another alternative.
The IRC Rural Roads Manual gives the geometric design standards to be followed. Particular attention is required in
adopting the Carriageway Width (CW) based on traffic volume considerations. Once the CW is fixed, compatible Roadway
(RW) and Road Land Width (RLW) will have to be provided. Where traffic is likely to be very low as in short roads
terminating in dead ends, and is not likely to increase substantially in future, a carriage way of 3.0 m may be designed
instead of the normal 3.75 m.
The recommended ground survey technique comprises of three sequential stages viz (i) Reconnaissance (ii) Preliminary
Survey and (iii) Final Location Surveys.
5.3.1 Reconnaissance starts with a field inspection by walking, riding on ponies (in hills) or driving in jeeps. All information
of value, either in design, construction, maintenance or operation of the facility should be collected, which may include,
inter alia, the following:
Details of route vis--vis topography of the area plain, rolling or hilly.
Requirements of cross-drainage works type, number and length.
Gradients that are feasible, specifying the extent of deviations needed.
Curves and hair-pin bends etc.
Existing means of communication mule tracks, jeep tracks, cart tracks etc.
Constraints on account of built-up areas, monuments and other structures.
Road length passing through different terrains, areas subjected to inundation and flooding, areas of poor drainage
conditions, unstable slopes etc.
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Climatic conditions temperature, rainfall, water table and its fluctuations etc.
Facilities/ Resources available e.g., availability of local labour, contractors etc.
Access points indicating possibility of induction of equipment.
Period required for construction.
Villages, hamlets and market centres connected.
Economic factors population served, agricultural and economic potential of the area.
Crossing with railway lines and other existing roads.
Position of ancient monuments, burial grounds, cremation grounds, religious structures, hospitals and schools etc.
Ecology or environmental factors.
Only simple instruments like Compass, Abney level, Altimeter, Clinometer, Ghat tracer etc are required in the
Reconnaissance survey.
5.3.2 Preliminary survey is a relatively large-scale investigation of the alternative(s) thrown up as a result of the
Reconnaissance survey. The survey consists in establishing a base-line traverse. For hill roads, it may be necessary to cut
a trace of 1.0-1.2m wide to enable the traverse survey to be carried out. A theodolite or compass is used for traversing
and levels are taken along the traverse and across it. The distances are measured continuously along the traverse line
with a metallic tape. Bench marks should be established at intervals of 250 m to 500 m and the level should be connected
to the GTS datum. Physical features such as buildings, trees, burial grounds, monuments, railway lines, canals, drainage
channels etc should be located by means of offsets. The width to be covered for such detailing should be about the land
width proposed to be acquired. Information on highest flood level, rainfall intensity, catchment areas of streams etc should
be collected. The survey enables the preparation of a map including the plan and longitudinal section. The scales
generally recommended are:
Built-up areas and hilly terrain : 1:1000 for horizontal scale
1:100 for vertical scale
Plain and rolling terrain : 1:2500 for horizontal scale
1:250 for vertical scale
It is desirable to mark the contour intervals at an interval of 1 to 3m. The map should show all the physical features
5.3.3 At the end of the preliminary survey, it is useful to involve the local community in the process of deciding on the
alignment since several social issues are also involved. As such the JE/AE must conduct a Transect walk along the
alignment /trace together with the Panchayat Pradhan/ Ward Panch, local revenue and forest officials. For the purpose,
the following steps are suggested:
The AE/JE may intimate the Gram Panchayat Secretary as soon as the preliminary survey operations start so that
the Panchayat gives it due publicity.
Date and time for the transect walk may be decided by the AE in consultation with the Pradhan of the
Panchayat/Ward Panch and may be put up by the Panchayat as a public notice. The AE will intimate the local
revenue official (Patwari) and local forest official (Ranger) and the Secretary of the Panchayat.
The Transect Walk will be conducted by the AE/JE along with the contour map of the proposed alignment (s). The
Patwari will identify all the plot numbers (Khasra No) and distinguish between Government /Public land and Private
land. All lands likely to involve Forest (Conservation) Act and other regulatory forest enactments shall be identified
in consultation with the Ranger. Where Private land is required, it shall be procured in a manner that is just and
equitable and best subserves the common good. The local Panchayat may be involved in the process.
If possible, borrow areas and areas likely to require protection/treatment shall be identified. Areas suitable for road
side plantation by the Panchayat may also be similarly identified.
Local people including those likely to be affected by the proposed alignment may be given opportunity to put forth
their views. Issues relating to cattle crossings, irrigation field channels, integration of inter-village and field paths
with the alignment, road safety, drainage measures to prevent damage to agricultural fields and dwellings will all be
The proceedings of the Transect Walk reflecting all of the above will be drawn up by the AE/JE and countersigned
by the Panchayat Secretary. A list of Plot Numbers involved along with area and ownership/ possession status shall
be provided by the Patwari and appended to the proceedings.
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5.3.4 Final Location Survey: - After the preliminary survey and Transect Walk, the final alignment is to be determined. The
purpose of the final location survey is to fix the centreline of the selected alignment in the field and to collect additional
data for the preparation of the drawings. The centreline is translated on the ground by continuous transverse survey and
pegging the same. The points of transit (POT) should be clearly marked on the ground by a nail in the existing pavement
or a hub in concrete on a new alignment. Suitable references (at least two) should be marked permanently on the ground.
The horizontal intersection points (HIP) should be similarly marked on the ground and referenced. All curve points viz
beginning of transition (BS), beginning of circular curve (BC), end of circular curve (EC) and end of transition (ES) should
be marked and referenced. The centreline should be staked at 50 m intervals in plain terrain and 20m intervals in hilly
terrain. Bench marks should be left permanently at 250 m intervals. The cross-sections taken during the preliminary
survey should be supplemented by additional cross-sections at the curve points. Generally, cross-sections should be
available at intervals of 50-100m in plain terrain, 50-75m in rolling and 20 m in hilly terrain. Survey can be accomplished
these days by a Total Station, with assistance from GPS (Geographic Positioning System) which determines the location
of survey points by satellite. But in the absence of these instruments, an ordinary theodolite, levelling instrument and
compass would be acceptable.
The IRC Rural Roads Manual SP: 20 contains instructions on Soil Survey and materials for the road projects.
Supplementary guidance on these subjects is given in Annexure 5.1.
The identification of the soil type in the field and the quick determination of its properties , including CBR are the basic
requirement for an economical pavement design. The grain-size (wet sieve) analysis leading to the soil classification is a
simple test and must be carried out to have an idea of the CBR value with a reasonable level of accuracy, the nomograph
given in Annexure 5.2 can be used. This would minimise the need for CBR determination in lab. The determination of CBR
by a rigorous CBR apparatus on a large number of samples may not be possible unless properly planned, and hence the
Nomograph given in Annexure 5.2 may be used.
The Rural Roads Manual contains instructions on the suitability of various types of cross-drainage structures. Generally,
the provisions of the Rural Roads Manual are adequate for CD Structures for Rural Roads. However, when special CD
Works are needed due to location specific conditions, such CD Structures are to be designed after appropriate exploratory
investigations. In such cases, a separate DPR is to be prepared for the CD Works as a part of the main DPR for the sub
project proposal.
A traffic survey is needed for existing roads that are proposed for upgradation in order to estimate the extent of pavement
strengthening. Such surveys may also be useful in prioritising maintenance activities The purpose of the traffic survey is to
establish the Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT). Traffic is likely to be the highest in the post-harvest season. But the
survey cannot always wait till the post-harvest season, and has to be taken up immediately after a particular project is
identified for being included in that years programme. If the traffic survey is done in a lean season, local enquiry should be
done to ascertain the post-harvest traffic, particularly of agricultural tractor-trailers, LCVs and trucks, and necessary
adjustments for traffic are to be made for seasonal variation.
Since rural roads have hardly any traffic during night time, a 16-hour (say 5 AM to 9 PM) 3-day classified volume count is
sufficient. Hourly count is not of importance and a daily total is adequate. The standard proforma is given in Annexure
5.3(a&b). The output of this survey is the base year traffic.
Based on the historical data or by elasticity method, the Growth rate is arrived at and using this Growth rate, the base year
traffic is projected to obtain the design traffic for the horizon year. Normally a 10 year design life is considered for Traffic
For new roads, which give access to unconnected villages, it is not possible to carry out an actual traffic survey for the
road. But, the traffic likely to use the facility can be taken from the traffic counts on newly constructed roads of similar
conditions. As an approximation, the following categories may be generally adopted:
Traffic (Average Annual Daily Traffic-AADT) projected over 10 years
New link roads taking off from existing roads.
Less than 150
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New through roads directly leading to Market centres.
The AADT above signifies the Average Annual Daily Traffic consisting of all motorised and non-motorised vehicles,
including two-wheelers. For pavement design, only commercial vehicles need to be considered. These form generally
10-15 percent of the ADT. Accordingly, the link roads proposed for new connectivity shall be designed for A Curve (0-15
CVPD) and in certain cases B Curve (15-45 CVPD). In case of new through routes, the design will be normally done with
B Curve (15-45 CVPD). Only in exceptional cases would the design traffic be of Curve C (45-150 CVPD). Each such case
needs to be substantiated with reasons. In estimating the base year traffic due care is to be taken in adjusting the traffic
for seasonal variations with the use of suitable adjustment factors.
As part of the database for each rural road, a traffic count needs to be carried out atleast once in 2 years and the traffic
data updated for each road in the OMMS.
Recognising that the low volume rural roads are essentially low cost roads, the specifications for pavement materials in
various layers should be as economical as possible, consistent with the traffic expected to use the road, the climatic
conditions etc. From this angle, local materials which are cheaper to extract and involve minimum haulage cost should be
used to the maximum extent feasible. A variety of local materials can be used which may be grouped under the following
Better granular soil for use on improved subgrade/ sub-base or as surfacing for earth roads.
Mechanical stabilisation of local soil with blending of different materials; stabilisation with lime, cement, lime and
flyash, as appropriate.
Naturally occurring low grade marginal materials like moorum, kankar, gravel etc.
Brick and over burnt brick metal.
Hard stone aggregates.
Past experience gained from long-term performance of test tracks in India on the use of local materials shows that for the
same pavement thickness, the use of local materials in lieu of the conventional hard stone aggregates can bring about
savings to the tune of 25% of conventional construction costs. In situations where hard stone aggregates have to be
carted from long distances of the order of 200 km, the maximised use of local materials can bring about savings in
material costs to the extent of even 40% of the conventional material costs. Some of the more important points in the use
of these materials are discussed in Annexure 5.4.
In most of the regions where black-cotton soil is predominant (parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat,
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh), it is very economical to stabilise the soil by adding lime, and such layers can be used
as sub-base courses. For base courses, further addition of a small quantity of cement/ fly ash could be beneficial. The
same treatment can be applied to areas with clayey soil in the delta regions of Orissa and West Bengal. For the silty soils
of the Gangetic plains, cement stabilisation can be a good alternative to the costly stone aggregates courses in the
sub-base and base courses.
Flyash can replace upto 50 percent of cement in concrete roads, which then become viable alternative to flexible
pavement, particularly in areas where stone aggregates are costly and soils are poor. Fly-ash shall also be used in the
body of the embankment provided it is possible to provide a cover of soil at least 1000 mm thick on the slopes and 500mm
below the bottom layer of pavement. Lime-flyash stabilised courses can be used as subgrade and sub-bases.
Adequately designed shoulders should be provided on rural roads. In case soft soils are used for embankment, hard
shoulders of 1 m width shall be provided on either side. Where availability of land is not a constraint, extra width of
shoulders can be provided near bus stops and to provide platforms for storing material during maintenance.
One of the very important reasons for a very rapid loss in the level of serviceability of most of the rural roads in the country
is the lack of attention to appropriate drainage. It is basically due to the lack of proper drainage that the maintenance
requirements of a rural road rise rapidly even during the early years of its service life. The modern trend is to incorporate
maintenance considerations at the design stage itself. Ensuring proper drainage during the design life is considered one of
the most essential pre-requisites for a satisfactory performance of the road during its service life.
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Provision of adequate drainage should be considered more of an investment than an expenditure, since it yields benefits
by way of more economical designs and much reduced subsequent maintenance costs.
It is mandatory under PMGSY to have a drainage plan prepared for each rural road project. Annexure 5.5 gives guidelines
for achieving good drainage of Rural Roads. The following points must be taken into the design of Rural Roads:
Provide the specified camber both for the carriageway and the shoulder. Shoulders should never be allowed to be
higher than the pavement.
Roadside drains, with proper longitudinal slopes leading the water to cross drains and hence to a natural water
course, must be provided.
When the road passes through a village, keep the road level high, with side drains on both sides to ensure proper
drainage and to prevent water from entering dwellings. The drains should be open L Shaped drains or U shaped
depending upon site conditions.
In hill roads, provide lined (dry stone lining) side drains to avoid scour, as well as interceptor drains (catch water
Integration of cross-drainage and longitudinal drainage is essential in the project.
Hydrological design of waterway considering afflux, scour due to restricted water way is essential. High afflux
causes flooding of up-stream and excessive scour on the downstream.
Water balancing culverts (average 2 Km per Km) needs to be provided in areas which do not have a well defined
water channel to drain out rain water.
5.10.1 Design Methodology for New Connectivity Roads: The design of the crust thickness for new connectivity roads
is as suggested in the Rural Roads Manual IRC SP:20:2002. Special care is to be taken while assessing the design
parameters, namely the CBR of subgrade soil and projected traffic for the design life period in terms of CVPD.
When Local materials are used with or without stabilization, material characterization is required for determining the
thickness of the layers used in the design.
The choice of surface for the road would be determined by traffic density and rainfall, as per the Rural Roads Manual. In
the case of new construction for eligible habitations of population below 1000, where traffic expected is likely to remain
low, in the interest of economy the road would generally be designed as Gravel road or other Unsealed surfaces provided
in Rural Roads Manual subject to considerations of rainfall. In case of roads leading to habitations below 500 (where
eligible) where the projected traffic is likely to be very low, the carriageway may further be restricted to 3 m.
5.10.2 Design methodology for Upgradation roads: The Upgradation of the existing roads include strengthening the
crust with an overlay, Geometric improvements and improvements in surface drainage or additions of CD Works, where
necessary. The data needed on an existing road proposed to be upgraded should include:
Pavement condition as explained in the Chapter 14 dealing with Rural Roads Maintenance.
Shoulder condition and Shoulder width or combined pavement and shoulder condition, as explained in the Section
dealing with Rural Road Maintenance.
Pavement design of the existing road.
Geometric design of existing road.
Existing surface and cross drainage.
Materials and soil properties.
Climatic conditions.
Traffic studies.
Safety considerations.
Age of the road with records of routine maintenance and periodic surface renewals.
5.10.3 Pavement Design: The suggested methodology for design of Pavements for Upgradation is as given below:
Determine the field moisture content and the field density, after the rains, at a distance of 0.6m to 1 m from the
pavement edge, below the pavement crust. Collect a representative subgrade soil sample for laboratory tests.
The field moisture content and field density determinations as at (i) above must be carried out at a number of
locations, not less than 3 per Km length of the road if the same type of soil and drainage conditions prevail. For
different types of soils and for different sets of drainage conditions, the number of field tests must be suitably
Prepare laboratory CBR samples of subgrade soil conforming to the density and moisture content determined from iii.
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field tests as described at (i) and (ii) above, for each of the locations selected for the tests.
Determine the CBR value of subgrade soil for each location selected for field tests as at (i) and (ii) above. iv.
Evaluate the Traffic parameter by carrying out 24 hour field traffic counts during the lean season and during the
harvesting seasons, finally arriving at the Commercial Vehicles per Day (CVPD). A suitable rate of growth of traffic
can be selected depending on the economic potential of the area but bearing in mind that in most cases traffic
levels would have plateaued.
For each of the subgrade CBR values at (iv) above, determine the pavement thickness requirement corresponding
to the traffic parameter evaluated as at (v) above. Let the pavement thickness requirements at each of the locations
1,2,3.(at different chainages) applicable in the corresponding lengths be T1, T2, T3
Determine the thickness of the pavement in the existing road at each of the above locations of the field tests
1,2,3.Let these be t1, t2, t3 . Also examine the thickness and quality of subbase and base materials in
the existing pavement.
The amount of strengthening / overlay thickness required is thus T1-t1; T2-t2; T3-t3; . The type of material in
the layers for the overlay will depend on the residual subbase and base materials used in the existing pavement
and will be adopted in the corresponding lengths of the road.
5.10.4 Geometric Design: There may be geometric deficiencies in the alignment, either horizontally or vertically. These
would have to be seen on a case-by-case basis depending on the severity of the problem, road safety implications,
availability of land etc.
Upgradation may require widening of the carriageway to 3.75 m in case the earlier width was less. This will also require
corresponding road way width of 7.5 m and land width of 11-12 m. While formation width may not always be available it
must be ensured that in all upgradation cases roadway width of 7.5 m is available (except in habitation portion). The
design of the pavement must take into account the difference in the over lay crust thickness over the existing pavement
and in the widened portion. Due to changes in centre line etc. appropriate changes in the surface profile and camber will
also have to be designed, where necessary.
5.10.5 Drainage: It is possible that the road to be upgraded may suffer from inadequate side drains or lack of integration
of the drains with the cross drainage. In adequate cross drainage (in terms of number of CDs, their proper siting or their
capacity) may also need to be addressed. Inspection of the road will generally reveal the nature of the deficiency and
necessary hydrological investigations may be made in the case of CD Works.
5.11.1 Geometric Design-
It has been indicated that the geometric standards for Rural Roads are to be as given in IRC SP 20:2002. However,
practical difficulties sometimes normally arise in providing the recommended geometrics due to nonavailability of land, with
no scope even for acquisition. In such cases, efforts must be made to provide the geometrics within the land available by
shifting the centre line to the extent possible. If even after this, Standard Geometrics like Radius of Curvature, gradient
etc. cannot be provided for the normal design speed, the geometrics are to be designed as per the ground conditions and
the corresponding safe speed determined. Appropriate signboards must be erected on either side indicating the safe
speed at which the vehicles can travel in such stretches. In addition at accident prone locations, speed reducing devices
such as rumble strip should be provided.
5.11.2 Pavement Design-
The estimation of design parameters is the most important issue in the design of pavement. It has been noticed
quite often that there is a tendency to estimate the design CBR on the conservative side and also to inflate the
amount of traffic expected. The combined effect of this is over design of the pavement, which in turn is reflected in
higher costs of construction. This engineering skill of the PIU lies in ensuring quality with economy. Not only must
CBR be estimated properly, the conditions in which it is to be estimated also need to be consciously determined. It
is always not necessary to adopt 4 day soaked CBR for design, since this represents the worst condition of design.
Depending upon the pattern of conditions prevailing at the site, the CBR may be determined at the equilibrium
moisture content (Annexure 5.6) in cases where the sub grade is not likely to come in contact with water either due
to capillarity or through percolation from the top. Similarly, the estimation of base year traffic should be done
judiciously taking guidance from the recently constructed roads in similar conditions. The traffic must have some
correlation with the agricultural surplus of the area and its expected growth rate.
When marginal aggregates and locally available material are used, special care should be taken in material
characterization. While adopting a particular method of stabilization, the efficacy of use of the most suitable
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stabilizing agent is to be established and accordingly used in the design. Detailed specifications are available for
various methods of stabilization in the publication Specification for Rural Roads published by the IRC.
In the conditions where the lead distance for bringing the aggregates is high, alternative methods of aggregate free
construction or limited use of aggregates shall be explored.
5.11.3 Design of CD Structures-
The proper location of the CD works and their design with proper estimation of expected discharge from the
catchments is extremely important. The type of CD Structure is to be decided based on the site conditions. Type
designs sometimes may lead to problems at a later stage. Therefore, care must be taken in the location of CD
Works, estimation of discharge and designing appropriate CD Structure.
The possibilities of adopting causeways need to be fully explored where minor /major bridges are proposed, for
cost effectiveness.
Operations Manual for Rural Roads
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