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SimpleCurvesorCircularCurves
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TerminologiesinSimpleCurve
PC=Pointofcurvature.Itisthebeginningofcurve.
PT=Pointoftangency.Itistheendofcurve.
PI=Pointofintersectionofthetangents.Alsocalledvertex
T=LengthoftangentfromPCtoPIandfromPItoPT.Itisknownassubtangent.
R=Radiusofsimplecurve,orsimplyradius.
L=LengthofchordfromPCtoPT.PointQasshownbelowisthemidpointofL.
Lc=LengthofcurvefromPCtoPT.PointMinthethefigureisthemidpointofLc.
E=Externaldistance,thenearestdistancefromPItothecurve.
m=Middleordinate,thedistancefrommidpointofcurvetomidpointofchord.
I=Deflectionangle(alsocalledangleofintersectionandcentralangle).Itisthe
angleofintersectionofthetangents.TheanglesubtendedbyPCandPTatOisalso
equaltoI,whereOisthecenterofthecircularcurvefromtheabovefigure.
x=offsetdistancefromtangenttothecurve.Note:xisperpendiculartoT.

=offsetanglesubtendedatPCbetweenPIandanypointinthecurve
D=Degreeofcurve.Itisthecentralanglesubtendedbyalengthofcurveequaltoone
station.InEnglishsystem,onestationisequalto100ftandinSI,onestationisequal
to20m.
Subchord=chorddistancebetweentwoadjacentfullstations.
Sharpnessofcircularcurve
Thesmalleristhedegreeofcurve,theflatteristhecurveandviceversa.Thesharpnessof
simplecurveisalsodeterminedbyradiusR.Largeradiusareflatwhereassmallradius
aresharp.

FormulasforCircularCurves
Theformulasweareabouttopresentneednotbememorized.Allweneedisgeometry
plusnamesofallelementsinsimplecurve.Notethatweareonlydealingwithcircular
arc,itisinourgreatadvantageifwedealitatgeometrylevelratherthanmemorizethese
formulas.Foreasyreference,thefigureshowninthepreviouspagewillbeshownagain
here.

Lengthoftangent,T
Lengthoftangent(alsoreferredtoassubtangent)isthedistancefromPCtoPI.Itisthe
samedistancefromPItoPT.FromtherighttrianglePIPTO,
I
tan

T
=

R
I

I
T = R tan
2

Externaldistance,E
ExternaldistanceisthedistancefromPItothemidpointofthecurve.Fromthesame
righttrianglePIPTO,
I
cos

R
=

R + E
R

R + E =
I
cos
2
I
E = R sec

R
2

Middleordinate,m
Middleordinateisthedistancefromthemidpointofthecurvetothemidpointofthe
chord.FromrighttriangleOQPT,
I
cos

R m
=

R
I

R cos

= R m
2
I
m = R R cos
2

Lengthoflongchord,L
LengthoflongchordorsimplylengthofchordisthedistancefromPCtoPT.Again,from
righttriangleOQPT,
L/2

I
sin

=
2

R
I

R sin

= L/2
2
I
L = 2R sin
2

Lengthofcurve,Lc
LengthofcurvefromPCtoPTistheroaddistancebetweenendsofthesimplecurve.By
ratioandproportion,
Lc
I

2R
=
360

RI

RI
Lc =

180

Analternateformulaforthelengthofcurveisbyratioandproportionwithitsdegreeof
curve.
Lc

1 station
=

D
1 station I

Lc =

SIunits:1station=20m
20I
Lc =

Englishsystem:1station=100ft
100I
Lc =

IfgiventhestationingofPCandPT
Lc = Stationing ofP T Stationing ofP C

Degreeofcurve,D
Thedegreeofcurveisthecentralanglesubtendedbyanarc(arcbasis)orchord(chord
basis)ofonestation.Itwilldefinethesharpnessofthecurve.InEnglishsystem,1station
isequalto100ft.InSI,1stationisequalto20m.Itisimportanttonotethat100ftis
equalto30.48mnot20m.

ArcBasis
Inarcdefinition,thedegreeofcurveisthecentralangleanglesubtendedbyone
stationofcirculararc.Thisdefinitionisusedinhighways.Usingratioand
proportion,

1 station

2R

1 station

2R
=

360

SIunits(1station=20m):
20

2R
=

360

Englishsystem(1station=100ft):
100

2R
=

360

ChordBasis
Chorddefinitionisusedinrailwaydesign.Thedegreeofcurveisthecentralangle
subtendedbyonestationlengthofchord.Fromtherighttriangleshadedingreen
color,

D
sin

half station
=

SIunits(halfstation=10m):
D
sin

10
=

Englishsystem(halfstation=50ft):
D
sin

50
=

MinimumRadiusofCurvature
Vehicletravelingonahorizontalcurvemayeitherskidoroverturnofftheroaddueto
centrifugalforce.Sidefrictionfandsuperelevationearethefactorsthatwillstabilizethis
force.Thesuperelevatione=tanandthefrictionfactorf=tan(phi).The
minimumradiusofcurvesothatthevehiclecanroundthecurvewithoutskiddingis

determinedasfollows.

Fromtheforcepolygonshownintheright
CF
tan( + ) =
W
Wv

gR
tan( + ) =
W
Wv

tan( + ) =
W gR
v

tan( + ) =
gR

Thequantityv2/gRiscalledimpactfactor.

Impactfactor
v
if =

Backtotheequationtan(+phi)=v2/gR
v

tan( + ) =
gR
tan + tan

=
1 tan tan

gR

gR

Recallthattan
e + f

= e

andtan

= f

=
1 ef

Butef

gR
0
v

,thus

e + f =
gR

RadiusofcurvaturewithRinmeterandvinmeterpersecond
v

R =
g(e + f )

Fortheaboveformula,vmustbeinmeterpersecond(m/s)andRinmeter(m).Forvin
kilometerperhour(kph)andRinmeter,thefollowingconvenientformulaisbeingused.
2

km
(v

1000 m

) (
hr

1 hr
)

km

3600sec

R =
g(e + f )
2

v (

)
3.6

R =
g(e + f )
v
R =

(3.6 )g(e + f )
v
R =

(3.6 )(9.80)(e + f )

RadiusofcurvaturewithRinmeterandvinkilometerperhour
v

R =
127(e + f )

Usingtheaboveformula,Rmustbeinmeter(m)andvinkilometerperhour(kph).

Tags:
circularroad horizontalcurve road circularcurve
radiusofcurvature sidefriction superelevation

simplecurve

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