Types of gradient
Many studies have shown that gradient upto seven percent can have considerable effect on the speeds of the passenger cars. On the contrary, the speeds of the heavy vehicles are considerably reduced when long gradients as at as two percent is adopted. Although, flatter gradients are desirable, it is evident that the cost of construction will also be very high. Therefore, IRC has specified the desirable gradients for each terrain. However, it may not be economically viable to adopt such gradients in certain locations, steeper gradients are permitted for short duration. Different types of grades are discussed below and the recommended type of gradients for each type of terrain and type of gradient is given in table 17:1.
Ruling gradient, limiting gradient, exceptional gradient and minimum gradient are some types of gradients which are discussed below.
The ruling gradient or the design gradient is the maximum gradient with which the designer attempts to design the vertical pro le of the road. This depends on the terrain, length of the grade, speed, pulling power of the vehicle and the presence of the horizontal curve. In flatter terrain, it may be possible to provide at gradients, but in hilly terrain it is not economical and sometimes not possible also. The ruling gradient is adopted by the designer by considering a particular speed as the design speed and for a design vehicle with standard dimensions. But our country has a heterogeneous traffic and hence it is not possible to lay down precise standards for the country as a whole. Hence IRC has recommended some values for ruling gradient for different types of terrain.
This gradient is adopted when the ruling gradient results in enormous increase in cost of construction. On rolling terrain and hilly terrain it may be frequently necessary to adopt limiting gradient. But the length of the limiting gradient stretches should be limited and must be sandwiched by either straight roads or easier grades.
Exceptional gradient are very steeper gradients given at unavoidable situations. They should be limited for short stretches not exceeding about 100 metres at a stretch. In mountainous and steep terrain, successive exceptional gradients must be separated by a minimum 100 metre length gentler gradient. At hairpin bends, the gradient is restricted to
Critical length of the grade
The maximum length of the ascending gradient which a loaded truck can operate without undue reduction in speed is called critical length of the grade. A speed of 25 kmph is a reasonable value. This value depends on the size, power, load, grad-ability of the truck, initial speed, final desirable minimum speed etc.
This is important only at locations where surface drainage is important. Camber will take care of the lateral drainage. But the longitudinal drainage along the side drains require some slope for smooth flow of water. Therefore minimum gradient is provided for drainage purpose and it depends on the rain fall, type of soil and other site conditions. A minimum of 1 in 500 may be sufficient for concrete drain and 1 in 200 for open soil drains are found to give satisfactory performance..