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A methodology for road cutting design guidelines based on field observations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ellen Robson, Dr Andrea Agosti, Professor Stefano Utili, Dr David MilledgeORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Authors. Road networks in low and lower-middle income countries (LIC/LMICs) are rapidly expanding to enhance social and economic growth. The construction of a new road often requires cuttings to be made, especially in hilly topography. In LIC/LMICs, many practitioners rely on guidelines to design roadside cuttings, however, some of these guidelines lack accuracy as they are not developed using rigorous stability analysis methods. Stability charts offer a more reliable alternative to some guidelines; however, these are difficult to use in the field. To overcome this gap, we present a new methodology to develop rigorous and user-friendly guidelines for the preliminary design of roadside cuttings. The guidelines are developed using failure criteria commonly employed by practitioners (i.e. Generalised-Hoek-Brown for rock and Mohr-Coulomb for soil) and a rigorous Limit Equilibrium Method, Morgenstern-Price, for stability analyses. In addition, we consider upslope geometric boundary conditions and slope seepage. The guidelines are designed to be user-friendly by including categories with accessible descriptions to characterise the slope material and geometry that can be selected by a practitioner in the field. Then the methodology is showcased by producing new guidelines for the design of road cuttings in Nepal and Ethiopia. We believe the systematic use of guidelines developed following the novel methodology here illustrated will reduce design error, and thus lead to road cuttings of increased life span.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robson E, Agosti A, Utili S, Milledge D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Engineering Geology

Year: 2022

Volume: 307

Print publication date: 20/09/2022

Online publication date: 02/07/2022

Acceptance date: 24/06/2022

Date deposited: 08/08/2022

ISSN (print): 0013-7952

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6917

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2022.106771


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