Engineering Geology

Volume 307, 20 September 2022, 106771
Engineering Geology

A methodology for road cutting design guidelines based on field observations

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enggeo.2022.106771Get rights and content
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A methodology to develop user-friendly road cutting guidelines is proposed.

The stability of the cuttings was analysed by a rigorous (M-P) Limit Equilibrium Method.

Guidelines require only field estimated information.

Guidelines developed for Nepal are tested against existing guidelines and stability charts.

Above cutting upslope inclination bears little influence on cutting inclinations.


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.


Road cutting guidelines
Slope stability
Generalised Hoek-Brown criterion
Limit Equilibrium Method
Stability chart

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