Highway Engineering

Highway engineering, also called roadway or street engineering, is a branch of civil engineering that focuses on roads, highways, streets, bridges, and tunnels. It involves planning, designing, building, operating, and maintaining these structures to ensure people and goods can move safely and efficiently. This field gained importance after World War II in the late 20th century. Standards in highway engineering are always improving. Highway engineers need to consider future traffic, design intersections and interchanges, plan the shape and layout of roads, choose materials for road surfaces, decide how thick the pavement should be, and keep roads in good condition.

The Romans were among the first to construct roads. As transportation evolved from horse-drawn carriages to powerful vehicles, roads had to be improved to handle the changes. Modern highway construction started in the late 19th to early 20th century.

The first serious research on highway engineering began in the UK with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in 1930. In the US, the discipline gained importance with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944, which aimed to connect most cities with populations of 50,000 or more.

As vehicles became larger and heavier, roads needed to be stronger. By 1958, the construction of the Preston bypass, the first motorway in Great Britain, significantly advanced pavement technology.

NamesHighway engineer, roadway engineer, street engineer
SynonymsRoadway engineering, street engineering
Occupation typeProfession
Activity sectorsCivil engineering (transportation engineering), construction
Education requiredBachelor’s degree and/or master’s degree in civil, transportation, or construction engineering. Professional engineer (P.E.) licensure Professional land surveyor licensure (P.L.S.) licensure (optional)
Fields of
Consulting firms state or federal department of transportations (DOTs) municipal public works departments general contractors in road construction academic institutions
Related jobsBridge engineering tunnel engineering bicycle transportation planning and engineering urban planning

Different types of Roads:

  • Classification based on Speed and accessibility
    • Freeways
    • Expressways
    • Highways
    • Arterials
    • Local Streets
    • Collector Roads
  • Classification based on Construction materials used
    • Earthen Roads
    • Gravel Roads
    • Murram Roads
    • Kankar Roads
    • Water bound Macadam [WBM]
    • Bituminous Roads
    • Cement Concrete Roads
  • Nagpur road Classification
    • National Highways
    • State Highways
    • District Roads
    • Village or Rural Roads
  • Classification based on usage
    • All-weather Roads
    • Fair-weather Roads
  • Classification based on Carriageway
    • Paved Roads
    • Unpaved Roads
  • Classification based on Rigidity
    • Flexible Roads
    • Rigid Roads
  • Classification based on Topography
    • Hilly Roads
    • Plain Area Roads
  • Classification based on Economy
    • Low-cost Roads
    • Medium-cost roads
    • High-cost roads
  • Classification based on traffic volume
    • Low traffic Roads
    • Medium traffic roads
    • High traffic roads
  • Classification based on traffic type
    • Cycle tracks
    • Pedestrain tracks
    • Motorways
About the Author
Er. Md. Shahin Akhter
Er. Md. Shahin Akhter is a Civil Engineer from MIT and has more than 8 years of experience in Civil Engineering and Designing. Besides, being a webmaster, he also handles Construction estimating and Costing at ProCivilEngineer. He loves outdoor adventures and reading self-help books including novels. Connect on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Quora.