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The road ahead ….. on roads

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This is a followup to the road working group call, we (nithin, asj and myself) had a couple of weeks back. After that, I also talked to a contractor who has built roads (Pradeep). The consolidated "whats the story" is below, in the format of question/answers. Needs a lot more work and refining, but feel free to comment on the work so far. Also, if you want to call in and give your feedback, send me a private message.

Q1. What do we want our roads to be?

Q2. What are the aspects one must keep in mind when a road is being built?

Q3. What are the limitations of the process followed in building roads today (or why are they not as good as they should be)?

Q4. What are our suggestions in getting it fixed?

Q5. How do we plan to go about it?



Q1. What do we want our roads to be?

Roads are the heart of a city. They are used by ALL citizens without exception, define a good portion of their life, and give character to a city. We all want our roads to be -

  • Safe for ALL users, especially for pedestrians and bicyclistsf
  • Easy and stress free to navigate, for ALL
  • Optimally designed for smooth and quick flow of traffic
  • Pretty, neat, clean and green
  • Comprehensively designed to make efficient use of available space, taking into account all uses of a road. Examples of some functions are street furniture such as bus-stops, street lighting, utility lines such as electrical, water and drainage, cables etc

Q2. What are the aspects one must keep in mind when a road is being built?

Roads in this context means all kinds of roads, from highways to narrow streets, any thoroughfare of any kind, but with special focus on the urban context
When building a road, there are different aspects which come into play. For this document, we will classify them as under -

  • Geometric design
    This is the road layout, i.e. the plan view and section view as understood in engineering drawing. Thus, the width of pavement (vehicular portion), footpaths, intersection design, position of streetlights, trees & street furniture, height of kerb, etc all come under this
  • Civil engineering
    This is the actual materials and construction. Implementation of a given geometric design would mostly fall in this classification.
  • Non engineering
    These could be the actual tendering process, financials, systems for monitoring and maintenance etc

    Our focus here is more on the geometric design aspect

Q3. What are the limitations of the process followed in building roads today (or why are they not as good as they should be)?

We now go into the limitations of the current process in building roads

  • Geometric design is not given much attention
    • Traditionally, roads have grown from village roads, or inter-district roads, where providing a solid and smooth surface for vehicles to ply on was considered good enough. There was not much space constraints, not too much crowding, as also limited functions that a road was subjected to
    • As we move to today's urban scenario, roads are subjected to multiple uses, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, water, sewerage and electricity lines, bus-stops etc. The density of people and traffic has increased a lot. Real estate too has become very expensive. Given all this, there is a need that the roads be 'designed' optimally, thoughtfully and comprehensively, which has not happened.
  • Lack of clear cut and comprehensive standards
    • There is a national body called IRC (Indian Road Congress) which comes out with regular publications. These consist of general guidelines as well as recommended standards.
    • These guidelines are not mandatory followed, especially on the geometric design aspect
    • These are too general, multiple and disconnected. For example, there is one for footpath, another for bus-stops, and another for drainage, an additional for electric poles and so on. Every time, the relevant engineer needs to connect it all together and apply it to the particular road under consideration. This results in non-standardized solutions, with the quality very dependent on what the particular engineer does at that time. This is the missing link in getting the IRC standards adopted locally.
    • At places, the standards are not comprehensive and up to date, and they need improvement
       
  • No single point of ownership
    • There are multiple agencies for implementing different functions of a road. Tar'ing is done by one, footpaths by another, tree planting by the forestry department, electrical lines by the electrical utility company, telecom companies lay the cables, bus stops by the bus utility and so on. Each goes about their task in an independent manner, with no single monitoring or overseeing body. This results in an adhoc layout which is far from optimal

 

Q4. What are our suggestions in getting this fixed?

  • Geometric design should be part of specifications
    • It should be mandatory, when a new road is being built, that the detailed geometric design should be part of the specifications
    • This specification should be obtained from a set of standardized templates
  • Creation of a set of standard geometric design templates for roads(or standardized templates)
    • First step is a more detailed classification of roads, depending on width and function. For example
      • 9m residential only roads
      • 9m residential & commercial
      • 18m commercial
      • 24m arterial
      • 24m arterial & 1 lane BRTS
      • …… & so on
    • Second, list down all possible uses that a road can be subjected to. These include, but are not limited to, vehicular (2,3 & 4 wheelers), bicyclists, pedestrians, bus-stops and other street furniture such as streetlights, electric lines, utility lines, drainage and sewerage, parking, hawkers etc. Make a comprehensive checklist to make sure all are included
    • Third, obtain all relevant guidelines and standards from IRC, other govt. bodies, international equivalents, actual examples etc
    • Finally, come up with well thought of designs for each road type, with a balanced approach, which meets IRC guidelines where available, international where possible, optimally and innovatively uses space and in general meets the objectives listed out in the first question of this document. These then become the standard templates to be used for every new road.
       
  • Have a single agency responsible for a complete road
    • All road related civil works should be entrusted to a single agency/ contractor. The utility which desires and addition/alteration, will pay the agency/contractor to get its work done. So for eg: tree pits will be dug and placed by the contractor according to the standards, forest deparment will only plan the samplings, poles will be installed by the contractor, electricity utility will lay the lines, place the streetlights, ducts will be in place by the contractor and the telecom agency will lay cables in those ducts, and so on.

 

Q5. How do we plan to go about it?

  • Have detailed documentation
    • Have documentation which has all the detailed approach in creating standards.(on these lines)
    • Use pictures and examples to illustrate it
  • Design and present a real world example
    • Get approval (or interest) to apply the above methodology for redesign of a road or a new road being built. Apply the above processes to redesign and get it implemented. Have a small (1 to 2 km) stretch of medium traffic density.
    • Approach local municipal bodies/Residential welfare associations for the same
  • Drive the point home
    • Once we have a working example, incorporate the learning's into the documentation and follow up with civic organisations and govt. bodies.
    • Try and get IRC to make it an official publication

 

 

 

 

Comments

psaram42's picture

Outstanding and through

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An Excellent Work done Suhas. It could not have been done better!

The current practice of drawing the 3 phase domestic supply by BESCOM on electric poles all along the streets of Bangalore is not acceptable. When I talked to some of the BESCOM Officials they felt it was too expensive to have the same under ground.

Wishing all the best to you and the team.
s_yajaman's picture

Excellent

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Suhas,

Very good.  Another thing to incorporate would be set-offs   I was in Chandigarh last week and they have planned things out really well.  All shopping areas are offset by at least 50-75 m from the roads.  Each shopping area has surface parking adjoining it.  Roads are of uniform width 3+3 lanes.  I will post pictures once I am back in Bangalore.

Srivathsa

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

navshot's picture

Traffic throughput and FAR

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Suhas,

This is really great start. I think we should also think about FAR (Floor Area Ratio). At some level, we need to link your proposal with FAR. In other words, FAR and traffic throughput in the area should be interlinked. For example, in an area already developed, the road width should drive the FAR in the area (eg: smaller the road width smaller the FAR) and in newly planned areas long-term FAR should decide the road width.

But ofcourse, FAR is only an indicator of expected volumes of traffic. This may not hold good for arterial roads (eg: road to airport). In general, we need to link traffic volumes to road width and FAR is one of the means.

-- navshot

 

-- navshot
Nitinjhanwar's picture

Traffic Jams

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Suhas,

I had already sent a message on the day that we had interacted.

There is article in the Monthly (NOV 2008)Institution of Engineers newsletter: "Navigation system warns of traffic jams up ahead"

"Reaserchers at Portsmouth University are leading a consrtium to develop an in-car navigation system that shares information between vehicles to warn motorists about traffic jams ahead ......"

Its called a Congestion Avoidance Dynamic Routing System and uses artificial intelligence in the from of a specially fitted GPS device.

So if the city has a GIS map with all the attributes and captuting system in place it may be effective.

But than again free flow depends on the percentage of mixture of traffic. A route necessarily with two lane width and a detour but free of traffic may not be the most time saving. It may take the same time if the route of congestion is followed. Only thing the commuters will have the feeling of being on the move.

The thing is that everything is site specific I guess.

Nitin Jhanwar

nJ

-nJ-

919462900144

www.nitinjhanwar.biz

srkulhalli's picture

Could use following help

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Thanks for the encouraging words, would also include ASJ and Nithin for helping out.

Two areas where some contacts would be usefull - 1. Would need to have college students to do most of the work, with our guidance. If anybody has contacts or suggestions for colleges in Bangalore with good students or know students who are interested. Graduate or post graduate would be fine, but must have 6 months dedicated to project work. Civil/Transportation/Arch - I think any of these fields is fine.

2. Contacts with Govt. departments/ contractors at engineer levels - Would like to talk to the people on the ground first to get their perspective, before we approach the higher ups.

Suhas

Suhas

psaram42's picture

Road Design in isolation is unscientific.

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Suhas,

For example you’re defining road width on
• 9m residential only roads
• 9m residential & commercial
• 18m commercial
• 24m arterial
• 24m arterial & 1 lane BRTS
• …… & so on

The roads of a city have to be proactively planned for specific role. Commercial road should be narrower? One would not think of having a commercial high way, for example to make my point. Arterial roads for example should be isolated and can have green belts? Pedestrian and cycle tracks should be integrated. and so on.

In cities in Asia that is the problem. The arterial roads tend to become commercial.  I would appreciate if you could comment on my thoughts on the subject in the full article elsewhere:

Urban Road Network Development is an important integral aspect of any urban development. The standards of construction of State roads are available with Indian Roads Congress at nominal cost by mail. However these standards seem to refer only to the civil construction of roads as such without referring to various other important civic needs of a community, with an urban reference, in particular.

PSA
srkulhalli's picture

I agree 100% with you .... but

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PSA,

Thanks for going through and thinking about it. I agree with you 100%, there has to be a holistic and comprehensive view and the city network needs to be proactively planned.

But you must understand where our road proposal is coming. It is at a lower level, once the plan is in place and it has been decided what kind of road you need, you then pick up the particular road design from a standardised road design templates. This is the process that we are trying to improve. So for eg:, the pedestrian and cycle tracks do get covered, as they are part of the standardised designs.

Hence, whether it is FAR or town planning rules, we are not trying to address them. It would be fantastic if we can solve all problems, but by being focussed, one has a greater chance of success.

Suhas

Suhas

psaram42's picture

True. One has to be focussed.

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Suhas,

My point came up because of the classification of roads which you are making as the first step. I am unable to grasp the importance of this classification with respect to the design of these differently classified roads. Is there a standard classification available? Why is a commercial road required to be 18mts wide? Or is it if a road is 18 mtrs wide it should be designed as per commercial road specs?

What is the basis for determining the width of a road? According to my present understanding the Expected Traffic load on the road is one of the likely important design criteria.

I like your geometric design concept, which is a new concept as far as I am concerned, especially when I am not an IT professional.

I, once again, invite you to see my post on Traffic Entropy

PSA
srkulhalli's picture

Was indicative of the process

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PSA,

Sorry if I got you confused. The classification was not final or frozen or decided or correct for that matter. It is just there to make the explanation more understandable. We eventually have to come up with the right classification and you can critique it at that stage.

The particular example that you picked upon , what I meant was An 18m wide road in a residential layout having mainly residential houses but few kirana style stores (mom and pop stores). Maybe the classification should sound as Resdintial with light commercial. BTW, 18 is also just a number, not something come out of great thought.

Again, I am not trying to help the planner decide what road to put where. Once the planner decides the kind of road and width he needs, I am helping with the implementation by giving a standardised design to him. Hope this is understood.  So if the planner decides this is a road mainly for commercial purpose and needs 4 lanes, he picks up the 18m commercial but if he decides that he needs a collector kind of road of 4 lanes within  a residential area, he picks up 18m residential road.

Geometric design is not an IT concept. But I am glad you liked it.

I will blog on your website regarding your post.

Suhas

Suhas

ssheragu's picture

roads

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ssheragu srkuhalli / suhas has done excellent work I wish to add on as follows 1. Classification mainly depends upon road function which drives the width 2. First and foremost is to identify roads as residential or comercial & not as part residential & part commercial 3. having done this, it is imperative for this classification to be implemented strictly. 4. no shops should be allowed on residenial roads nor any homes or houses should be allwoed on commercial roads. 5. subsequently the road width and other aspects can be set. 6. in fact if a drive is implemented in Bangalore to shift all commercial buildings from residential areas and all houses from commercial areas, most of the traffic jams will cease to exist 7. al residental layouts should have roads lined only with homes; only one wide 6 lane road (with sufficient parking) in a residential layout or a small area with lot of parking space should be earmarked for essential shopping like vegetables, milk, medicines,hotels, coffee shops, etc. 8. it will do well for BDA / BBMP to construct not one but at least 10 (ten) big shopping complexes with huge parking space in each locality like Jayanagar, Indiranagar, RT Nagar etc. to transfer all existing shops in resdential areas to these shopping complexes and serve the needs of the citizens thanks Srinath Heragu
asj's picture

We are not building a new city

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Friends,
We are not proposing to build a new city. What we are hoping to do is take an exsisting road, study its needs and plan to use the road optimally to fit the needs.

Also, rather than commercial and residential we need looking at what IRC already suggests (trunk, arterial etc).

ASJ
psaram42's picture

We are trying to put some sense into the Bangalore city roads

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Bangalore got the first place in a contest organized in NDTV big fight Show yesterday night. It was for a wrong reason though. It got first place as the city with the worst maintained road network among Metros of India! The others contested were Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai.
mandayamr's picture

Road lay(er)ing and it's impact on increasing ground temperature

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I have been in Bangalore for the last 19 years.

Other than a few roads that were dug up and laid fresh - Nanda main comes to mind from the early to mid 90's, when Cauvery water pipes were laid across just close to the South End signal, and the road was mud and stones for a few months - BBMP seems to always allow contractors to lay tar upon existing tar.

1. What is the contribution of every inch of tar per square km of road in terms of increase in ground temperature?
2. Why are roads in good condition re-laid with 2 inches of more tar?

Has this been studied, and it's impact understood?

My own worry is that 10-20 years from now, my home in JP Nagar I Phase will end up being below the road level if this method continues.  Can this happen?

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